Gathering Information
or How to Overtip
The Cocktail Waitress

In the spirit of constantly repeating myself, let’s start where we left off in my last article. Knowledge is power in poker. If you play the way I tell you to, you will not be playing very many hands, so you’ll have time to do the most important part of poker: overtip the cocktail waitress (just kidding, let’s try that again).

Knowledge is power in poker. If you play the way I tell you to, you will not be playing very many hands so you will have time to do the most important part of poker: GATHER INFORMATION. (How much was in the pot when he called? What odds was the pot laying him? Did he fold to a small raise? Did he overtip the cocktail waitress?)

So, what do we need to do in order to gather information? PAY ATTENTION. (For those of you who answered, "Overtip the cocktail waitress," you’re my kind of folks.)

Pay attention and watch your opponents. Do not look at your cards when you first get them. Instead, look at your opponents and their reactions when they look at their cards. You'll have plenty of time to look at your own cards when it is your turn to act. Gather information, then look at your cards.

By the time you look at your cards, you should already know the answers to some very important questions like:

A. How much money is in the pot?
B. Who opened the betting?
C. Who overtipped the cocktail waitress?
D. Who, if anyone, raised the pot?
E. How strong a hand do you need to call the bets that have been made when the action gets to you?

Keen observation of your opponents' mannerisms, along with their betting and calling patterns, will help you to categorize them so you can determine the best way to play against them. This brings us to our subtopic:

Types of Players and How to Play Against Them

It's important to identify the playing styles of your opponents. To do this, you must pay attention to every hand that is played so you can gather information to identify the type of player you're up against. Here are 5 general categories:

Maniac. This player is wild and reckless and plays a lot of hands. He plays a lot of weak and marginal hands out of position, but plays them very aggressively. Strategy: You want him seated to your right if possible. If he is behind you (to your left), only go into a pot with a hand that can stand a raise. Check your strong hand to him and he will bet for you. You should call him more frequently and you can call him with weaker hands than with what you would call a tight player.

Maniac Mannerisms: Aggressively pushes his chips into the pot (this is usually a sign of weakness). He will talk a lot after he bets (usually a sign he has a strong hand). He raises, then he stares at his opponent while covering his mouth (usually a sign of weakness). He’s wearing his mother’s robe and slippers (usually a sign of a troubled childhood, unless of course, they’re color-coordinated, then, in that case, it’s just a fashion statement).

Tight. This player plays very few hands and only enters the pot with premium hands. Strategy: If this player shows any kind of strength, you have to put him on a premium hand. Mid connectors, Ax suited, or pairs are good hands to break his premium. If you get a flop and he bets, you can break him. If he checks to you, you should bluff at the pot. If he calls and then checks, he is probably trapping, so you must check. If he is seated to your left, you can bluff him out of the blinds easily.

Tight Player Mannerisms: He will stack his chips neatly. He will stack his chips where all the colored edges are all in a nice orderly line. He leans back in his chair, crosses his arms and waits (this shows patients--as a doctor I have lots). He will sometimes grab his chips as if to bet before it is his turn (this shows weakness). Under no circumstances will he ever overtip the cocktail waitress (this shows tightness).

Calling Station: This player is non-aggressive, but will call all the way. Strategy: Do not try to bluff this type of player. Bet into him with your good hands; if he has any money in the pot he will call.

Calling Station Mannerisms: He is surrounded by parked cars and the sounds of scurrying people and loudspeakers belting out, “Track #9,” and “All Aboard.” These overpowering noises mingle with the distant, mournful cry of a lone train whistle…er, sorry, that’s a train station.

Solid: This player always has a hand when he is called. He mixes up his play, sometimes fast and loose, other times tight and slow. He can trap (slow play a big hand) or bluff (play a weak hand in a manner that represents a good hand). Strategy: Because he is smart, he can be bluffed out of a good hand, but only by a smart bluff (i.e. you raised before the flop and lead into him when you missed on the flop. Don’t try to represent that you have big cards after the flop if you didn’t raise before the flop. Don’t try to steal a pot with a small bet unless you can sell him on thinking that that small bet means you’re strong. Usually a bet that's about ½ to ¾ of the pot is the right amount.)

Solid Player Mannerisms: He is usually silent and emotionless under stress situations. Sometimes a solid player will do chip tricks, flipping them around in various ways (this shows experience and a lot of time sitting around the poker table). He is the consummate actor and can mimic all other playing styles. He has been seen, on occasions, overtipping the cocktail waitress.

Weak: This player doesn’t understand how to play the game. He plays weak cards from any position and doesn’t know when to bet, raise, fold, or call. When he gets a good hand or catches a flop, he will often overplay his hand by pushing in all his chips. Strategy: Show him a good hand and don’t try to bluff. He is not smart enough to throw his hand away. When he over bets the pot, throw your hand away (unless you have a monster). Be aware that this player can draw out on you because he doesn’t know when to throw his hand away. So, only play large pots against him when you have the best of it.

Weak Player Mannerisms: He will play for seven days without a break…er, sorry, that’s a "week" player. He will sometimes fold when there is no bet to him or he might fold out of turn. In extreme cases, a weak player might ask his neighbor, “Does a straight beat a flush?” He usually looks at his cards the second he gets them. He generally overbets the pot when he has a good hand.

So what have we learned here today?

A. Pay attention.
B. Gather information.
C. Observe your opponents mannerisms.
D. Remember that Dr. Hope will beat a joke to death, especially if it involves a cocktail waitress.
E. Identify your opponents playing styles.

Be sure and watch for my next article, “Reading the Board.” Please don’t confuse “Reading the Board” with “Reading the Bored.” The latter refers to getting a tell on the fellow who is yawning and watching the TV monitor, not the cards on the table.

So, in conclusion I want you all to reach deep into your pockets and over tip that cocktail waitress. A lot of them are single moms and they need the money. It’s good luck and good Karma.

So until next time, remember the number one thing in poker is to have fun and enjoy it. It’s not whether you win or lose that counts; it’s whether I win or lose.


C’ya

Dr. Hope, J.A.P.D
(Just A Pretend Doctor)

 
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