No Limit: Manipulative Poker
Much of a player’s success comes from patience and reacting to other people’s mistakes and weaknesses. Without taking too many risks we can simply wait for our opponents to present us with favourable opportunities and, in an ideal world, they may well continue to do so. A key factor in many sports is the significance of mistakes, and the overall result is often a product of the final, most serious error rather than strong play from the winner. But the seriousness of mistakes in poker is magnified to the nth degree because each new pot is essentially a game in itself – we are given the chance to make a mistake every minute of a session! Thus, in turn, we should be looking to do more than keep our own game as watertight as possible while waiting for profitable openings, and make an effort to help them arrive at poor decisions too.
Indeed, assuming that we have successfully managed to maintain a certain level of discipline at the table so that we can go about our game simultaneously relaxed and concentrated, then the next imperative step is to get the most out of this optimal frame of mind by striving to disrupt and manipulate the opposition’s thought processes.
In order to achieve this we need to have a good idea of – amongst others – what cards (from what range) our opponents hold as well as what they believe we hold. Once we get the hang of this we can then set up situations in which we exploit the opposition’s predictable play based on inaccurate assumptions we have helped them make.
We read that it’s possible only at the higher limits to incorporate this kind of manipulative play into our game because lesser players don’t think any further than their cards and those on the table. I’m not sure this was ever a totally accurate view but, nowadays, with so much material available to anyone looking to improve their game, it’s evident not too long after joining a game that most players do in fact put some thought into what they do.
With this in mind, I recommend sitting down with the sole intention of investigating this important part of the game, focusing on what other players are doing and why, how our own actions are perceived and subsequently how we might be able to marry the two to our advantage. If we establish a loose table image, for example, with more than our fair share of pre-flop raising, continuation bets and so on, then we are in a position to extract the maximum with our monster hands. This is a simplistic example, perhaps, but typical of how the more canny players manipulate their opponents. The more we learn about this kind of psychology the more useful weapons we add to our armoury, the aim being to have a game that isn’t necessarily impossible to read, rather one that induces inaccurate reads.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD)
32Red Poker Ambassador