Thursday, March 8, 2007

Know Thy Enemy

Professional poker players can be considered accurate judges of character especially in the poker arena. They can read you in a single glance and know how you will play the game by just playing with you or observing you for a few minutes. Reading other people is so important to playing poker that it is a must-have for those aspiring to be professional players. Your ability or inability to read your opponents will decide if you are going to win or lose a lot of money in the long run.

Know what type of player your opponent is, and deal with it.

The most basic skill of a good poker player lies in his ability to accurately identify the type of player his opponents are. In the broadest sense, poker players can be classified into two groups, the aggressive players and the defensive players. Each of these two types of players have its weaknesses and strengths and if you can classify your opponents into one of these early on in the game, you can use what you know to your advantage by playing on the weaknesses rather than going head on with the strengths.

Aggressive players are those that almost never fold a hand. They will fight it out till the end without regard to the value of the hands they are holding. This type of players will always bluff, raise the pot and call your bets. Because of this, you know that when you have a good hand you will be able to rake in lots of money just by raising the bet. It is also a good practice to fold hands that are not good or mediocre when playing against this type of player. Chances are, his cards will be better than yours and you can be fairly sure that he will call on your raises no matter what.

Defensive players, on the other hand play, it safe throughout the game. A defensive player will always try to cut his losses by folding cards that are not so good or are merely average or mediocre. He also seldom calls your bets or makes one of his own. Because of this, you can be more aggressive when playing against this type of player. Feed on his insecurity and his desire to play it safe. When you feel that his cards are not very good, raise the bet or bluff in order to make him fold.

Know when to be aggressive or defensive yourself

Knowing how to switch your game strategy from being aggressive to being defensive is one of the most effective tactics in playing this game. Flexibility is the key as demonstrated by professional players who adapt a strategy based on how their opponents play. Frequent and properly timed switching from aggressive mode to defensive mode is a great strategy in itself because your opponents will remain guessing; they will not be able to settle on a strategy to use against you because they cannot even decide what type of player you are.