There are all types of styles and all types of players in poker. More often than not, most players tend to fit into easily identifiable patterns, at least up to a certain level. While many players these days are using poker tracking software and HUD’s, I still think that many people neglect their own games too much and they end up playing too predictably.
I think that watching your own game is every bit as important as watching your opponents. You should always strive in poker to deviate your game and if you always do something in a certain way every single time then your game could do with some improvement.
This week I will be talking about one of those very patterns of play that I have just been referring to. There are many players out there who go into “pot control” mode with medium strength hands and check call it down in a kind of “well either I am way ahead or way behind” mode of thought.
A player could be doing this for numerous reasons. They could be very suspicious of a certain players over aggressive play or perhaps the texture of the flop and the manner of your play leads them to think that they have possibly got the best hand but do not want to dangerously escalate the pot.
But if I think that a certain player likes to check call with mediocre hands then I will value bet a lot more than usual and punish him that way. For instance, it has been folded to me in the cut-off and I have been raising a fair bit not through over aggression but merely because I have had a run of hands that I have been raising with but not having to show down. I have the Ad-3c and raise and the big blind calls with Ks-Qc.
The flop comes Ac-Ah-Qs, they check and I will bet more freely here not just on the flop but on subsequent streets as well if I think that my opponent will likely call me down with a second best hand. He could easily be suspicious if I check this flop back and is expecting me to continuation bet anyway whether I have hit or not.
But checking it back is merely giving him a free card and also allowing him to escape from his destructive pattern to always check call with “way ahead way behind” type hands. Whenever I sit down in a game then I try and ascertain as quickly as possible what each player is really trying to do in the game. Because in my experience many players go into poker with some kind of “system” in their head.
This “system” is probably arrived at by some mish mash of poker knowledge accumulated over many weeks and months or years for that matter either from books, magazines, televised programs, playing experience or whatever. But they will have some sort of system of play and will be playing with certain methods and strategies in mind from the very start.
The faster you can “tune” into what each and every player is doing then the better you will be able to deviate from your normal solid game. Many players purposefully set out with the intention of playing fancy poker and making fancy plays. When in actual fact you should be doing the exact opposite of that. I always set out with the intention of playing solid poker first and foremost.
I deviate from that only when I think that there is a very good reason to do so. At least 95% of the time for me in any one session, I am just doing the routine solid stuff. In my experience, if you have to look too hard to see if a particular play is viable then it just isn’t there in the first place. Situations where you can deviate from solid play will stand out a mile once you get to know your opponents and also understand how they are interpreting you. As usual if anyone wishes to discuss any part of this article with me then I am available through the forum or through www.pokersharkpool.com, see you next week.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson can also be found playing free poker