Knowing your opponent part two

Knowing your opponent part two

October 31, 2017 3:00 AM


Last week, we identified typical playing traits you will encounter as you play Texas hold’em. Knowing how each opponent usually plays his cards, you can be prepared to take appropriate measures in your own best interests. Let’s explore this:

Getting seated at a new table: You come to the table and see a very aggressive player there. Instead of asking for a different table, try to get a seat to his left. Then you can see when he raises before your turn to act. With a marginal hand (that barely meets or slightly exceeds the Hold’em Algorithm criteria (see ad below), it would be wise to fold and save some chips.

Using the Aggressor: Sometimes, on the flop, you will connect with top pair on the board – say, J-J on a flop of J-9-6 offsuit. After Mr. Aggressive raises, you can reraise to thin the field, forcing out some opponents so your vulnerable hand has a better chance to keep the lead – and, ultimately, win the pot. Too many hands can develop that will make your J-J second-best or worse. Fewer opponents substantially enhances your chances of keeping the lead.

A tight player raises: When a tight player raises, especially from an early position, you can be quite certain he has a strong hand. Then, if you hold a mediocre hand, folding is the best policy.

Playing against a Chaser: Chasers present a special challenge. Typically, those are players who (whether or not they admit it) came to the game to play. They may call all bets to the river while holding a drawing hand with few outs.

Example: Chaser called to see the flop with a small pair. His hand (as is most likely) did not connect for a set (three-of-a-kind); and there are two honor cards on the board. It is quite likely, at last one of his opponents has the higher pair.

There’s an opening bet from a tight player in an early position. Several players fold their hands, but not Chaser. He has only two outs to improve his hand. He calls to the end, and loses another stack of chips. (Don’t be angry if he gets lucky and snares this pot away from you. In the long run, he will give at all back – and then some.)

Bluffers are common: Bluffing is an oft-practiced form of deception you should seek out. Tight players are less inclined to try to bluff out their opponents. Loose players are quite likely to do so. Fortunately for you, few are familiar with the Esther Bluff tactic. (See ad below.)

There are many bluffing tells you can look for – such as a player holding his palm in front of his mouth; stroking the back of his neck; holding a deep breath; freezing in his seat. Among many other tells, the popular Mike Caro’s Book on Poker Tells discusses the length of a player’s pause before betting or raising as a viable bluffing tell. (Cardoza Publishing;

Other forms of deception: Slow-playing and check-raising are two other rather frequent forms of deception. Once you have observed an opponent use this strategy to build the pot when he holds a powerful hand, be aware when he might be using it again with you as his victim.

Calling-Stations can be tough to play against: Playing an opponent who you have identified as a Calling-Station can be quite difficult. For one thing, you can only suspect this is an actual trait for him. He may have previously called an opponent simply because he had good reason to believe that player was trying to bluff him out. You saw his small pair when he beat out that bluffer who made a poor bluff. The bluffer didn’t use the Esther Bluff; and may have been careless with his tells. You can feel much more comfortable if you personally had previously bluffed him out – so you know he’s not a Calling Station.

It pays to know your “enemy!”