One of the areas of my game that requires constant watch over is the way my current opponents are playing and my estimate of their abilities. I play in a wide range of games, from the lowest limits, filled with players who act like they have never seen a Texas holdem game, up to games with players capable of not only thinking beyond what I think they have, but also to a hand two hours from now. Each of these games requires a completely different type of play. This is best illustrated by an example.
In a game with new and/or poor players, when I flop a strong hand, the best play is to bet. Any fancy plays, like slow playing or check raising, tend to not work well against these types of players. In addition, they don’t play in any predictable fashion. In a highly aggressive game with better players, it is easier to predict how a player will play. This is not to say that a game with better players is easier to beat. Nothing could be further from the truth. To maximize your winnings, it just requires different playing styles.
Of course the correct playing style depends entirely on the current situation, and we don’t have the space here to get into all of the ins and outs. The important thing to learn today is that you must not play the same against both sets of opponents. As a general rule, play solid straightforward poker against weaker opponents, while using your advanced skills against advanced opponents.
Before you join a table, observe the playing ability of your opponents and use this information to maximize your winnings. Most games will include players of a wide range of playing abilities. There is much more to winning than getting good cards.
Until next week, good luck at the tables!