How To Be Less Predictable At Poker

min read
A poker player checks his hole cards.
BetMGM Dec 10, 2021, 7:40 AM

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 not ideal if you’re a poker player. Whether you play online poker 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 you play poker online or live provides a few practical tips to get you started. Read on.

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 the fun – and challenge – of poker is to infer what the other player is trying to conceal. The trouble with being predictable is 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, he’ll simply avoid you when you play aggressively. Another example would be if you never slow play your hand. (Slow playing is 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 give-away to a disciplined, perceptive player.

Raise consistently preflop

One way to be less predictable as a poker player is to raise the same amount during the preflop round, when each player is dealt two cards. Preflop bets are basically what determine 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, so they’ll take longer to figure out your strategy. If you always raise more when your hand is stronger, your opponents will cotton 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

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 raised. Imagine you have pocket aces in a game of Texas hold’em poker 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 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 (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.

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 it’s easier said than done, and many poker players simply make clowns out of themselves when they start thinking 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 hopes of getting your opponent to fold. Basically, you simply raise or bet with a draw (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 from 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.

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 to always take the same amount of time to act. It won’t help you infer what your opponent’s 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

If there’s one thing you can predict when you play poker online, it’s the quality you can expect when you sign up with us at BetMGM. You’ll enjoy a premium online poker experience with no fewer than 70 daily online poker tournaments to choose from. Sit and goes, shoot-outs, multi-table tournaments, you name it, we’ve got the works. Buy-ins start from as little as $0.25, so everyone can get in on the action. If you’re an experienced player, we have tournaments with guaranteed pots of up to $40,000 to keep things interesting. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.