If you repeat an action or behavior consistently, other people know in advance what to expect from you in certain situations. In other words, you’re predictable. That’s great when it comes to showing up for work, paying the rent and so on, but it’s less ideal if you’re a poker player. Whether you play Texas Hold’em online or live poker, being predictable makes things easier for your opponents and prevents you from maximizing your opportunities. Fear not, though. Our guide to being less predictable when playing poker provides a few practical tips to get you started.
The problem with predictability
So what’s the big deal with predictability? It’s all a question of information. There’s the information you have in your hand and the information your opponent has. Part of poker’s fun – and challenge – consists in trying to deduce what the other player is trying to conceal. The trouble with being predictable is that it allows an experienced poker player to infer what information you’re trying to hide from them. You want to avoid playing your hand too consistently. Imagine you’re a tight player who never bluffs. An experienced player could infer that you never bet unless your hand is strong. As a result, they’ll simply avoid you when you play aggressively. Another example would be if you never slow play your hand, slow playing being the strategy of playing a strong hand weakly. As soon as you check, you’re telegraphing the fact that your hand is weak. Any type of predictable behavior is a potential giveaway to a disciplined, perceptive player. When you adjust your poker strategy accordingly, it will yield better results at the poker table.
Raise consistently preflop
One way of being less predictable is to raise the same amount during the preflop round when each player is dealt two cards. Preflop bets are basically what determines the stake of the entire game. If you simply raise the same amount every game, no matter how strong or weak your hand is, your opponents won’t have too much information to work with, which means it will take them longer to figure out your strategy. If you always raise more when your hand is stronger, your opponents will catch on to you pretty soon and find ways to leverage their insight. One thing, though: To raise consistently, you need the budget to do so. Don’t use this strategy if it’ll put your bankroll at risk.
Slow play your strong hand preflop
Another poker tip to consider is to be less predictable by slow-playing a strong hand preflop. The point is to keep players in the hand who might fold to a raise or to cause them to bet more strongly than they would if you bet or raise. Imagine you have pocket aces in a game of Texas Hold’em online but instead of playing aggressively, you decide to limp in with a call. That’s slow play. You can confuse more experienced players in online poker tournaments if you do it with your big pairs and strong aces once in a while. In fact, one of the more interesting poker tournament tips is to use the slow-hand play tactic when there’s a good, aggressive player in the blinds behind you. If you limp in with a strong hand, you can lure the aggressive player into making a squeeze play, that is, reraising preflop after a raise and one or more calls. You could then reraise again and get the biggest pot in the middle with the best hand before the flop. Again, this is not a guaranteed game-winner, just an interesting idea to try. That said, the slow hands play tactic should not be used too often as it could be considered bad etiquette at the poker table.
Semi-bluff in the flop
A slow play is a kind of bluff, of course. The point of bluffing is to keep your opponents guessing. If you can bluff successfully, they’ll never know what to predict. But that’s easier said than done and many poker players simply make clowns of themselves when they start believing that they’re masters of bluffing. Learn to walk before you run, as they say. One classic technique you can try out for yourself is the semi-bluff. That’s when you don’t have a big hand in the flop round but you make a bet anyway in the hope of getting your opponent to fold. Basically, you simply raise or bet with a draw, that is, a hand with winning potential but very little value at face value. The most common draws to bet with are a flush draw or an open-ended straight draw. Bear in mind that skilled players can often see semi-bluffs a mile away, so don’t count on it to win any high-stakes online poker tournaments! That said, it can be fun and educational to try when you play poker online. This, of course, is one of the benefits of playing at an online casino.
Eliminate your timing tells
One of the best ways to be less predictable in online or live poker has nothing to do with bluffing at all. Instead, it’s about observing yourself to see whether you’re giving off any timing tells. Players with mediocre hands or average draws often bet quickly, which tells an observant opponent that they didn’t need to think about their decision, making it easy to work out what they have. Conversely, players with strong hands often take a while as they weigh up their options. This also sends a message. To get rid of any timing tells you may have, try to discipline yourself always to take the same amount of time to act. It won’t help you to infer what your opponent is holding, but it’ll prevent you from giving too much away when you’re up against skilled opponents on the best online poker sites.
Enjoy predictable poker quality at BetMGM
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