2/05/2006

02-05-06 [poker] - 1

02-05-06 [poker]

I'd like to work more on my use of image in poker games. I think generally I have a pretty good image vs. people who have seen me a while. I'm sort of intimidating, and they know I can make some big bluffs, but that I'm also tight and smart, and the combination just makes them scared to play with me and makes them mess up. However, against super-fishes and people I haven't played much, I don't have much image, and I can't really control how they play against me. Ideally against really bad players, you set up an image and get them to play one specific way so that you can manipulate them and read them. There are two interesting choices here.

One is the "asshole" who actually wants you to attack him. I don't know if it's intentional, but I think Sean Sheikan and Phil Helmuth have this, and sometimes Dustin gets this in the local game. Basically this guy acts like just a real ass at the table, mocking people, berating them, and really pisses people off so that they really want to bust the asshole just to get him off the table. This makes them go after the asshole. To counter, the asshole just plays super-tight. He needs to keep making little stabs, but if you come at him big, he can make huge laydowns, and you get frustrated and keep attacking with worse and worse hands, and then he calls you and you're busted. This really works best in live games where you can really get under someone's skin, though Drew used it successfully online.

Another is the "maniac" or gambler. Basically you create the image that you're a fish who wants to gamble it up, you want people to think you're bluffing all the time. This is the classic LAG strategy used by many top pros. You play a lot of small pots and make lots of little stabs. You also intentionally take gambles where you might be a slight dog (but not a big dog), you turn over some cards and show bluffs with junk. Now everyone thinks you're a nut and they want to call your bets with mediocre hands and play back at you with junk, so when you get cards you get a ton of action.

One that I use sometimes is to act like the "mouse". People who know my game aren't fooled by this, but I can use it in games I'm new to. The "mouse" is super tight/weak, and will fold to your bluffs and give up big pots. I create this image by just not bothering with small pots that I think you're bluffing, I let you have them. Then comes a pot where I build up the pot, then I check the river, and you bluff it big, and I call with a mediocre hand and pick off a huge bluff. This is a great way to exploit bullies who just can't resist attacking perceived weakness. It's sort of like a Judo approach, you sucker them into over-committing their weight, and suddenly you're on top of them and you've got the kimura.

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