Change pace and keep them guessing
January 8, 2009
Predictability can often make or break you in a poker game. Even a player with top notch strategy and luck can be thwarted if they show consistency in their playing style. Your opponents will be watching you constantly, looking for anything and everything that will give them an edge over you. If you’re playing certain hands the same way every time – like clockwork – they’re going to pick up on it. Change pace and keep them guessing.
What is It?
Basically, changing pace means varying your playing style. As most players probably know, there are four main playing styles: tight-passive, tight-aggressive; loose-passive, loose-aggressive. Each of these styles has their strengths and weaknesses. That being said, it’s fairly easy to plug your opponents into which category they belong if paying attention. Likewise, you can be sure, if they’re any good at all, your opponents are plugging you into a category, too.
When you let them plug you, though, and you stay constant with your strategy, there will be your downfall.
Why do It?
Changing pace give you the advantage of unpredictability. Especially if you’re playing with opponents you’ve played with before, if they know what type of player you are, they’re going to adjust their strategy to beat your type of play. If you let this happen, you’ve already lost.
Lets say you’re a loose-aggressive player. Your tendencies include playing a lot of hands, betting big, and bluffing – a lot. If I know this, I’m going to be more inclined to call you out on a lot of hands. With your strategy of bluffing, you’re hoping not many people are going to call if you bet large enough, but since I know your type of play, I’m going to call or even raise you, adjusting my strategy to yours. Right now, your strategy just went down the toilet, and your stay at my table could be very short lived.
How To Do It.
You’re, basically, going to pull the ol’ switcheroo on them. You’re going to want to aim for opposites.
Generally, you want to play the way you normally do at the beginning. Let your opponent get comfortable. Once they think they have your strategy figured out, switch it up on them.
Lets say you’re naturally a tight player. This means you’re only going to play the best starting hands, you’re not going to take too many chances, and when you bet, you’re going to have solid hands. Play this way for awhile. Let your opponents figure you out. When you win a huge pot in a showdown, show your cards, letting everyone know that when you bet big, you have the cards to back it up. After an hour or so, start to play more hands. Maybe lay down a huge bet, bluffing. You’ll notice that most of your opponents are going to fold. Why? Because they know your playing type, and they know – rather, think they know – that you have a solid hand. You’ve just stolen the pot. Continue betting aggressively and playing more hands, and they’ll have no idea what to do.
Not Getting Caught.
Good players will notice when you’re changing pace; however, amateurs will not. A pro may be able to pick up on it in a matter of minutes; whereas, a beginner may take up to an hour. Do not remain consistent with your changes. If you play tight for an hour, then play aggressive for an hour, then go back to tight for the next hour, a good player is going to recognize this pattern and pounce. By changing frequently, and not in a predetermined pattern, you’re going to keep your opponents guessing, and always one step behind you.