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Part VI: Table Image

Author's Note: This article is part of a larger course for new players. Course links are provided at the bottom of this page.

I talked briefly about table image in the Beginner's Mistakes to Avoid section, but I want to expand on it here because its such an important part of the game.

In the same way that I've been teaching you to make inferences about the strength of other players hands based on the behavior of their play-they will also be making inferences about the strength of your hand based on your own past behavior. If they see you as being a looser, more aggressive player then they will tend to call you more often when you bet or raise-you will get more action. When they see you as being a tight, conservative player they will tend to fold to your bets and raises more often.

The ideal image to have however is neither one of those. The ideal image to have is “unpredictable”. To get that type of image you have to mix your play up enough so that your opponents just don't know what to expect when you make a bet-this will cause them to make mistakes against you, it will cause them to act from guessing rather than from sound observations which show some predictability. The trick here is, in doing that, in mixing up your play, you should not deviate from the course of statistically good play too much, too often. You must learn to spot ideal opportunities for making these types of plays, and take advantage of them.

You might sit down at a table and play the first few rounds very tight, playing only a few hands with good cards-then out of nowhere raise pre-flop from P5 with mid-level suited connectors, and the very next hand from P6 with a small pocket pair, making aggressive moves with hands that have at least some chance of hitting the flop, or otherwise working out. If you are giving up only a few percentage points from what you would normally do to establish the fact that you are a dangerous and unpredictable player, then it is well worth it because you will cause your opponents to misread you down the line.

However, becoming a “maniac”, going crazy, is not a good way to do this. If you deviate too far, too often, from tight aggressive strategy, you are simply going to get picked off by good, patient players with superior hands.

The other incorrect way to do this is to make passive calls with poor or mediocre hands from poor or mediocre table positions. Doing that won't tell your opponents anything about you except that you are a bad player. All your actions in this regard must be carried out in the form of aggressive moves, usually from mid to late position. So maybe in making these plays you're giving up a little of hand strength, or a little of position strength, but the aggressive aspect of your play will help to compensate for that, so even as you establish yourself as an unpredictable player, the moves that you are making to do so have at least a decent chance of working out in themselves.

The following links for this poker course are listed sequentially. Beginners may want to go through in the order in which they are listed to get the whole rundown. More advanced players may want to skip around to the parts which hold interest for them.

Poker


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