Quick Reads That Will Let You Exploit Tournament Opponents

Any experienced poker player knows that getting reads on opponents is very important. What separates a truly expert player from a non-thinking ABC player is the ability to alter his game in response to tendencies identified in opponents’ play. In cash games or even in sit n gos, you may be able to observe your opponents over hundreds or thousands of hands in order to get a good idea of their styles of play.

But in MTTs, you will be seated randomly with players you have never played against before, and you will be moved to new tables regularly. Since you won’t be able to build much of a history with most of your opponents, it’s very important to be able to get quick reads on their play, which you can begin to use almost immediately. Listed below are a few things to look for that can give you a solid understanding of your opponents’ level of play in a very short amount of time.

Preflop Raise Sizing

In the early stages of a tournament, there are plenty of good reasons to open for 3bb or even 4bb, but as the tournament progresses and stack sizes dwindle, there is almost never a good reason to open that large. By the time players have about 40bb stacks or smaller, most good players are making open-raises to 2 – 2.5 bb. If a player is regularly opening for a larger amount at that point in the tourney, he is almost certainly a player who is unfamiliar with tournament poker. He may be a good cash game player who doesn’t know much about proper tournament play, but on the other hand, he may be a complete fish. Either way, you can count on him to make big errors in his opening, three-betting, and calling three-bets strategies. Such a player is probably playing the same strategy that he was playing when the stacks were large.

Three-bet Sizing

Three-bet sizing can tell you many of the same things about a player that open-raise sizing tells you. In the beginning of tournaments, it’s common to three-bet to three times the size of the initial raise or even larger. But when stacks are smaller, many sophisticated players make their three-bets only 2.5 times the size of the raise or even less. Due to stack sizes and the commitment threshold, making such a small three-bet achieves the same purposes as a larger three-bet would while risking fewer chips. Players who are three-betting too large risk committing themselves to calling any four-bet. You can deduce that a player who continues making these oversized three-bets is not adjusting his strategy as the tournament goes on.

4 Key Skills that Every Poker Player Needs to Win

In contrast to most other types of games, poker is largely a game of strategy where you’re pitting your skills against those of the other players on your table. If you intend to do well then it is important that you hone certain skills so that you’re able to gain every advantage and come up on top the next time you play.

On the whole, there are four key skills that every poker player requires to win and they are:

Observation

Every good poker strategy relies on your ability to observe everything about your opponents. Not only should you be watching their reactions, but you should also be paying attention to their playing style and what they do when confronted with different situations. If you’re playing in a ‘live’ situation (or a poker room with a webcam) then the number of things that needs to be observed is even greater.

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Recall

After you observe how players react and their style, you need to be able to remember and recall that information when it is needed. Although this may sound simple it is actually pretty difficult especially considering there are so many things to remember and on top of all that you’ll also have to be thinking about how you’re playing the game too.

Calculating odds

No matter how you slice and dice it, poker is a game where you need to be fully aware of the odds at all time. The faster you’re able to calculate the right odds for your hands, the more time you’ll have to think about what sort of strategy you want to use – and also observe the other players too.

Psychological analysis

Everything that you learn by observing players needs to be analyzed – which is where psychology comes into play. More often than not what people refer to as ‘tells’ are really psychological reactions that players have – and you probably have some of your own too. Being able to analyze players and how they respond and react when put in different situations is key.

Make no mistake it is impossible to master all these areas overnight and it will take time for you to train yourself in each of these skills. As a starting point you could make a conscious effort to observe your opponents the next time they play and try to notice any ‘trends’ in terms of how they play certain hands, or when they are in certain positions.

At the same time you should also learn how to calculate the odds involved in your hands. It helps if you play more, and you may want to try out the online poker at Paddy Power to get a few more games under your belt and some real practice calculating odds. Just remember to take your time and don’t rush it. The more you play and try to develop your skills, the more you’ll start to see incremental improvements that slowly but surely add up.

Showing Cards

Everyone and their mother has an opinion on showing cards. If you bluff you way to a pot, do you show your hand to rub it in or do you just slide your cards to the middle of the table and stack your chips? If you fold a hand in a big pot is it ok to show what you mucked?

Personally I don’t like to show my cards under any circumstances, but there are times when showing your cards may help set a trap for a future hand. With that theory in mind, I’ve come up with my own compromise: Just show one card. Whoever said that if you’re going to show your hole cards, you have to show both? Showing one card can make your hand even more mysterious than not showing at all. I generally do this at least once at a table or tournament to throw off other players. I never knew its impact until I did it one night by “accident” in Atlantic City.

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I was playing in a low limit $2 / $4 hold em game. I was at the table for about an hour or so and was doing fairly well. I was up about $100. There was another player at the table who had to criticize other players when they won a hand on the river or didn’t play up his level. We’ll call him “Fred.” I think we’ve all encountered this type of player before. I immediately didn’t like Fred when he criticized me when I won my first pot. I was holding 6-7 of hearts and I flopped a straight. To make a long story short I won the pot with my straight, but the there were 3 spades on the board along with a pair of nines. I couldn’t raise my straight with the possible flush and full house out there. When I showed my straight Fred shouted across the table to me “Why didn’t you raise?!” I told him why (trying to be the gentleman), but Fred told me I played it wrong.

Different ways to make online poker pay

As a professional and semi-professional online poker player with ten years’ experience then I think that I can spot a good deal whenever I see one. One of the reasons why I play lower stakes levels in online poker is simply because the games are easier. If I had to choose between playing poker with very good players and playing poker with the weak fish then give me the weak fish any day of the week. I would much rather make a safe $25/hour than bust a gut trying to making $100/hour and losing my money.

Switch Poker have just launched their new product and it looks really exciting and fabulous. Playing ipad poker and poker on your iphone is something that has only become possible of late. No longer do you need to travel to a casino to play the game that you love and no longer do you need cumbersome stack systems or laptops. Wherever you are then you can simply play poker. However as a pro player then this interests me as it will any serious poker player or player that really fancies his chances.

Playing poker on the ipad will bring a whole new army of weaker players into the game and that extra liquidity will be great for the game of poker as a whole. Millions of people the world over want to play poker and being able to play poker in this way and the ease at which it can be done is a massive quantum leap forward not just for Switch Poker but the online poker community as a whole and certainly the good players will love it……..I for one can’t wait.

Poker System Failure

So you have a poker system in place? You feel that it will be able to help you win more times than not, right? If so, you are just like most other advanced poker players in the world today. But what will happen to you if the unthinkable pops up and starts to rear its ugly head? That is right, what will you be able to do if your poker system begins to fail you game in and game out. This is a harsh reality that a lot of people have to deal with time and time again. When it comes down to it you will probably not be able to use the same exact poker system throughout your entire career. There are times when you will need to make changes if you ever want to move to the top of the industry.

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The first thing that you should do if your poker system fails you is to get an idea as to what is going wrong. Is there something major that is not allowing you to win? Or is it simply something that you can fix within a matter of minutes? The fact of the matter is that if you want to fix your problem you are going to have to first identify it. This may take you a bit of time, but all in all it is quite important.

After you know what the problem is, the next step is to decide on how you are going to deal with it. For most people, the best way to deal with a system failure is to swap out the idea that is going wrong. For example, if you have found that you are having a hard time with your aggressive play, you may be able to tone it back a bit in order to get yourself back on the right track. Just remember, when you are toying with your poker system you should never change more than one thing at the same time. Instead, you should use a process of elimination in order to get a good idea as to what is going on with your game.

Finally, if you make changes to your poker system and you find out that you are worse off than you were to start, simply go back to the way that you used to do things. This is the great part about playing around with your poker system. You can make changes, and if they do not suit your needs you can simply go back to the way that things were and start over at point a.

As you can see, there are going to be times when your poker system does not work out to your advantage. But as long as you are willing to look into the changes that you can make you should be alright. Remember, you may see change as a bad thing but this is not necessarily true. If you want to be the best of the best you cannot be afraid to change the way that you play, and also try new things. Who knows, by trying out a new system you may find the key to success!