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).
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?)
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.
the time you look at your cards, you should already know the answers
to some very important questions like:
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?
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
of Players and How to Play Against Them
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:
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
what have we learned here today?
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.
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.
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.