Before I get into the gist of this series let me start off with a DISCLAIMER: Quantifying the importance of different strategies, concepts, and theories in poker is often a difficult if not impossible undertaking. For one thing, different situations put an emphasis on different strategies and concepts. For instance, when you are playing a 10 Big Blind stack in a tournament the only thing that is of importance is getting your chips in the middle with some fold equity, where playing in a cash game with 200 big blind stacks there are a multitude of factors to consider: position, cards, your opponent’s tendencies, table dynamics, your table image, and so on.
Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way let’s get down to business and discuss the Three most important factors players need to know and utilize while playing poker.
- A Solid Understanding of the Basic Strategies
- Focusing at the Poker Tables (Tells)
- Adjusting to Different Opponents and Table Dynamics
Adjusting to the Situation
Adjustments are a critical part of being a solid poker player, and the ability to adjust on the fly is generally the mark of a high-level, winning, poker player. In a session of poker players typically sit down ready to play their basic strategy, but as you get deeper and deeper into the session there are multiple adjustments that need to be made:
Adjusting to the Table Dynamics
Everything from where you are sitting to how the table as a whole is playing should be considered when you try to tweak your strategy for maximum profit. A table full of aggressive, fun-loving, raisers needs to be approached differently than a table full of nits.
Additionally, precisely where you are located at the table will also factor into how you play. If you are surrounded by agro players than you’ll need to step with a little more caution and tone-down your aggression with marginal hands. On the other hand if the three players to your immediate left are all relatively tight you can join in on the agro-fun.
Adjusting to particular opponents
A hand like AT can be 3-bet against some opponents, and should be snap-folded against others. Far too many people fail to consider not just what their opponent plays, but how they play post-flop and how they react to different situations.
One example of this is the player who never folds when you re-raise him pre-flop (maybe they just hate being bullied). In this case you should be more inclined to see flops with your marginal to good hands and raise with your powerhouses.
Making adjustments based on your table image
The final determinate in how you should play is your own table image. How your opponents view you is crucial to exploiting them. When you get a good run of cards you can use your new loose/aggressive image to get paid off with your monster hands, as everyone will be looking to take down the bully. When you are card-dead you can start stealing blinds, and if caught you can then switch back to the strategy outlined above and get paid-off with your good hands.
The point is, whatever happens during a hand (whether you win five hands in a row without a showdown or get caught playing 48s for a raise) you can then use it to your advantage.
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