Knowing Your Opponent

Written by PokerGobette on . Posted in Poker Blogs

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Loose Lips…

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One of poker’s greatest truisms is that of “knowing your opponent”. This is spot on and something that all good players try to get a handle on, as soon as they sit down at a table. However, it is one thing to “know your opponent” and quite another to get “cozy” with the person sitting next to you at the poker table

Is there a time when one can be too familiar with an opponent? In home games it is common to know the people your up against and be familiar with their style of play.

In a casino environment, if you play on a regular basis, then you can also become very familiar with your opponents. I’ve sat down at a table where I have “known” seven of the players at the table.

It’s in these situations where things can get a little tricky. At the casino you are obviously there to hit everyone over the head and take as much of their money as you can. In a home game you might go a little easier on the people you socialize with or live with!

In live games at the casino, I have often times found players soft-playing each other or getting overly aggressive with a hand so that their “friendly” opponent knows to fold. This bothers me a lot because poker isn’t about making friends in the strict sense. Of course it helps to be friendly, because this can assist you in making bluffs and players are more likely to lay down a mediocre hand against someone they like.

Mind Your Messaging…

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When playing online, it is all too easy to strike up banter with your opponents. After all we live in a culture of “facebook-ing” and “tweeting” as a way to meet new people and keep in contact with friends.

If your goal is to become an adept and astute poker player, then knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet is even more important.

It’s a lot easier for an opponent to scroll up and see your chat stream from a previous hand with another player, than trying to eavesdrop on a whispered conversation at a live table. You might also put your life at risk for even making an attempt!

In any event there can be a lot of benefits to “knowing your opponent” or being familiar with the players at your table. The biggest upside is being cognizant of their mannerisms and taking advantage when, even if you are weak, you know that they are weaker than you. The downside is that they have prior knowledge of your play as well. Therefore your standard “moves” may be less effective on them and you may start to get paid off less on your big hands. Or even worse you may start getting called down when you are bluffing.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly!)

What it comes down to is that you have to maintain a balancing act here. Be courteous and polite at the tables but always remember that you are there to take their money and for the most part they are there to do the same to you. And for heaven’s sake never soft-play an opponent because you “know them” as that just kills the expected value of your big hands. Leaving money on the table is as bad as, if not worse than getting your Aces cracked by crap!

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  • buzzmania

    really cool blog.i play live occasionally at the only bar in the woods where i live and being a small town its friendly and they expect the games to be the same when they are on the losing end. i have found myself falling to the laying down a hand as the night gets longer with the brew still coming only to avoid drama which seems to follow each game. i love the game and actually like some of the people, but its a fine line being cutious and friendly. im there to win ,not get rich. as the beer flows my balance leans more to the win side and i find myself breaking even just to go back for more the next week.lol..unlike online where i can use the notes to help me through the game with players i dont know its every man or woman for themselves.now in the private games i find myself being weak at times because i think too much,have you experienced this?instead of playing the player your thinking of what they might have,etc.before you know it they have changed their game and you get whacked,bam.either way somebody has to be the winner in my eyes.great blog even if i dont make sense.

  • ‘i find myself being weak at times because i think too much,have you experienced this?’
    There is a fine line between giving your opponents too much credit and feeling that you are being bluffed off a hand. That’s where really “knowing your opponent” comes into play. I have used my opponents “friendliness” towards me as a cover to bluff so I am certain that players have tried to use the same move on me. Therefore you have to be a calling station occasionally so that your opponents are less inclined to bluff you off the winning hand. Once you have shown that the propensity to call, they will most likely only bet if they have you beat.

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