by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
If you play any game or sport enough, you’ll develop patterns or traits that characterize you as a player. As humans, we’re creatures of habit that embrace the things that work for us and continually repeat that activity. If you really break us all down (as poker players), we tend to take on an identity of ourselves based around our most repetitive habits.
A player that identifies himself as overly tight is embracing his habit of avoiding risk and folding too often, at the expensive of profits. The player that identifies himself as overly loose identifies that he’s making too many plays and accepting too much overall risk at the expense of profits. If you’re too tight, you’re basically paying money to not have to play hands. If you’re too loose it’s like effectively paying money to make unnecessary plays. Try and make a play or not make a play based on what you think is the correct decision, regardless of your comfort level. Too often, poker players stay within their comfort zone and play the same way day in and day out.
Knowing which end of the tight-loose spectrum you fall - you’ll be able to go out of your way to take action (whether folding or making plays) towards the opposite end of the spectrum. If you have a habit of going into a shell when you get deep in tournaments, find a spot to make a play you wouldn’t usually make.
Predictability makes for easy opponents; we must go out of our way to deceive our opponents, or we’re beat before we even enter the tournament. Think of yourself from the viewpoint of your opponent and then flip the script. Also, recognize that most opponents don’t have multiple gears - meaning, what you see is (normally) what you get.
Every one of our opponents has a pattern just waiting for us to identify and use against them. The pattern could be something as simple as a tendency to bet the flop and check the turn post-flop. A single pattern that you pick up off of an opponent can open up many options by which you’re able to exploit them. It’s a two-way street for us to keep ourselves from being too predictable, while finding patterns in our opponents’ play.
David “The Maven” Chicotsky is the 2008 Online Player of the Year and a former #1 ranked online tournament poker player. He is also an experienced poker coach and can be reached at TheMavenTraining.com.