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January 2016

Image

“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Of course, you can adapt your behavior to manipulate your image. What image do you want? Is it a loose image so that, when you make a hand, you generate calls more often? Or do you want a tight image so you can pick your opponents apart with bluffs?

If you want a loose image to acquire calls, don’t put on your sunglasses, your hoodie, and your headset and not speak a word to anyone. You’re just portraying tightness. Instead, depict a sloppy image, stack your chips haphazardly, be loud, be boisterous, act like you’re there for fun and play all your marginal situations. Your manufactured image will create more calls for you.

Conversely, if you’re looking to bluff your way to victory, do put on your sunglasses, cover yourself with a hoodie, put on your headset (without the music on so you can hear your opponents), don’t say a word, fold all your marginal situations, and put on the most serious image you can.

All that said, trying to establish an image to people who aren’t paying attention is just a waste of energy. In those cases, just be your most comfortable self and play every hand optimally. Making non-optimum plays to deceive opponents that who won’t recall the circumstances and won’t employ the strategy you are trying to influence them into taking is just squandering EV.

Additionally, don’t be taken by your opponent’s maneuvers to influence you. Read people based on what their actions dictate, and not judge them by what they are projecting. Players talk loose and play tight. Pay attention to what your opponents do, not what they say. That concept transcends poker and is critical in life too.
Keep things real within yourself and project he image that’s best for you at the table. But when you leave the table, leave all the image projection behind and be your real self!

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Adjusting As You Go

 

Many reasonably knowledgeable players play poorly because they are too predictable. It’s not that their strategy is invalid; it’s that their opponents know their tactics and have successfully adjusted.

To play poker well, you must recognize the correct base strategy for your current situation, not allow your opponent’s to read you effectively and know when to adjust due to situational changes, such as when your opponent’s have picked up on your strategy. You should vary your play not only because the texture of the game has changed, but also to keep your opponents’ in doubt. Determining those strategies requires both knowledge and concentration.

Additionally, you have to know when to adjust your strategies. Sometimes the game changes, someone goes on tilt, players come and go; sometimes it’s just that your opponents have figured your strategy. Whatever the reason, a different line of play is needed.

It’s important to continuously follow the action, always think about how your opponents are thinking and develop lines of play based on their thoughts. Keep in mind that your opponents’ thinking changes over the course of the game. Also, keep in mind that many players never modify. They’re predictable, easy to read, and to counter. It’s not where you want to be.

So, think about what strategies will work best against this set of opponents when you first sit down. Think about how they think. Are they aggressive or scared? Patient or not? Understand position? Love suited cards? Call 3-bets with wired pairs? The questions are almost endless. Closely observe any changes to the game’s texture, your opponents’ emotional state or their rational thought process. Think about how any plays you have shown might affect how they will play you in the future. Then contemplate how you can effectively adjust to those changes.

If you continuously make those adjustments accurately, you’ll be one step ahead of your competition and render yourself unpredictable without having to make any –EV plays to throw you opponents off. It’s much better to randomize your play without cost than to utilize losing strategies to achieve the same effect.
Yes, this is short and sweet, and the details are incredibly demanding. But many players seem to overlook the big picture.

Don’t let yourself become too predictable. Do continuously pay attention and adjust your strategies to the current situation. Learn different styles of play so that you can successfully adapt to any game changes. Complacency is not the way to winning at poker.
And if you do all this effectively, poker will become both more profitable and more interesting.

Immediate Indicators

Poker players often tell me “I had no idea how he plays. I’d only been there for a few hands. ” That’s a really bad answer. Players often give indications to their style, mentality, and experience level before they even play a hand.

When you first walk up to the poker table, you should be observing your future opponents. What are the stack sizes? How do they stack their chips? Usually the neater they stack, the more conservative the player. With what experience level do they hold their cards and handle their chips? That’s indicative of how experienced they are at poker. Are they focused and paying attention? If so, we know they are serious and trying to play their best. Are they talkative? Is their talk sociable or boisterous? Sociable player’s tend to play more ABC, boisterous tend to play more aggressively. How do any new players react to posting the BB? Did they wait for the blinds, post behind, or post immediately because they looking to get into action ASAP?

Obviously, the more information you acquire on an opponent, the better your decisions will be. How they think, what hands they play and how they strategize their play of hands is the most important component. But that takes time at the table with them to make those determinations. There are immediate indicators such as those stated above can give you a quicker, though more basic, line on their play. Think about them, observe them, and use them!

And you won’t be so much in the blind when you first sit down!

Creating Your Image

What does our opponent think you’re thinking? That thought, mostly generated by your actions at the poker table, hugely determines how your opponent is going to read you, and more importantly, play you.

You need to be aware of what image you’re projecting at the poker table. Generally speaking, your opponents will have stronger impressions from recent events or unusual incidents. What have you projected in your last couple of hours at the poker table? What memorable hands have you previously played with this particular opponent? Have you played a lot of hands, maybe even some questionable ones? Are your current opponents aware of this? If so, your opponent’s are likely to think you are playing a wide range of hands? Having a loose image is beneficial when you are trying to win your opponent’s chips by getting them to call in more situations where they should fold. It’s challenging to get calls when your image is tight.

Conversely, if you haven’t picked up a hand in a while and the few you’ve showed down have been strong holdings, you’re opponents are likely to think you’re playing a tight, narrow range of hands. Having a tight image is helpful when you’re strategizing to win your opponents money by making them fold more often when they should call, more commonly known as bluffing. Your bluffs will have more value when you have a tight image, less value with a loose image.

Creating an image conducive to the strategy you’re looking to implement strengthens your strategy. You can often do this by making a few “deception” plays early in a session when your opponent’s first impressions will be lasting. This can be by playing loosely for a few hands, or showing a tight fold. Throwing in a few choice words, like “I’m just here for fun, not to play for a living” or “You must have this easily beat” when showing a tight fold will draw additional attention to the image you’re trying to create.
You also create your image with your non-poker actions. Players who are attentive and quiet tend to be viewed tighter than players who are interactive, talkative and friendly. If you’re looking for action, get rid of the headset and baseball cap.

When you first sit down at a table think about how you wish to be perceived. Are you going to bluff your way to victory or are you looking to make hands and get them paid off. Whichever your choice, establish the corresponding image. By manipulating your image, you’ll increase the odds of success for your correlating plays.

And always be aware of your image. Sometimes it’s the cards you’ve been dealt that sets your image. But whether you’ve fashioned the image yourself or it was crafted by other circumstances, think about your image is and how that will affect your opponents.

And adjust your play of marginal situations based on that image! Then when they’ve caught on, change it up!

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