Kamis, 16 Oktober 2014

Mixing Up Your Play In Tournaments

As a tournament poker player, we’re often seated with other players for long stretches of time. During this time-frame we’re able to get a good read on the general playing style of our opponents. One way we’re able to keep our opponents from getting a decent handle on the way we play is by constantly mixing up our strategies. Part of this process is having a lot of tools at our disposal, as well as being flexible and creative with how we implement these tools. No two poker players play exactly the same way, but many tournament players as a whole fall into the trap of adopting a conventional style.

Mixing up your playOne of the easiest ways we can throw our opponents off is by changing up the various sizes we use for open-raises, bets and re-raises. In tournaments, a standard open-raise size is between two and a half and three times the big blind. Most people have a standard open-raise size they stick with the entire way through a tournament. There is a positive and a negative to keeping the same open-raise sizing. The positive is it is easy on you, as you don’t have to put much thought into what your size will be. It also makes it virtually impossible for your opponents to find a pattern as to what your sizing means. It’s relatively rare to see beginner or intermediate players varying their open-raise sizes.
Alternatively, if you’re able to make your sizings larger or smaller depending on the situation (chip stack, opponent, game-flow, etc.) — it’s often easier to manipulate your opponents. As a general rule, when an opponent makes an open-raise larger or smaller than their standard sizing, their hand is usually polarized. We’ve all seen players make a min-raise or a really large raise (like 4 or 5x) with a premium hand. The bottom line is when you witness an opponent utilizing an unusual sizing, it’s usually smart to proceed with caution. By raising with different sizings, we’re able to keep track of the hands that went to showdown and use that against our opponents. If we’ve shown down aces with a min-raise, we can utilize that same raise sizing with a marginal hand like queen-eight suited as a form of deception.
Another way to throw your opponents for a loop is to go out of your way to shift gears and change up your play. This might be as simple as playing tight for a level or two and then realizing you have a tight table image and exploiting that by turning up the heat. The same thing applies after you’ve been very active — this is often a perfect time to tighten up and get paid off on your big hands. It can be as simple as figuring out what your table image is and shifting gears — playing the opposite of how your opponents expect you to play. This sounds simple, but most tight players play tight the majority of the tournament (just as loose players tend to always play loose). It’s important to be a chameleon at the table; constantly adapting to the ever-changing conditions.
It’s necessary not to type-cast ourselves as a certain type of player, but instead, go out of our way to play many different styles of poker. Also, a lot of what we can and cannot do in a tournament is dictated by tournament factors out of our control (such as the chip stack, length of levels, skill level of our competition and other factors). The things we can control must be pushed into the forefront of our thinking — as we need to be constantly looking ahead and figuring out what we need to do to remain as competitive as possible.
We can look ahead to the upcoming blind level increase and figure out how many blinds we’ll have, as well as the amount of blinds in the stacks around us. This will change the way we’ll approach the current level, as well as the next level. For example, if we have 25 blinds and the blinds are going up in 15 minutes, we might decide we’d rather re-raise all in on a loose opener next level, when we’re sitting at 18 blinds (rather than now with 25 blinds). Once we’ve targeted a player, we must decide what are options are relative to the blinds in our stacks and when we should make such a move. This will enable us to tighten or loosen up throughout the various levels of the tournament, based around the options that will be available to us. It’s always great when we can use the tournament structure to our advantage, rather than having it negatively affect our performance.
The next time you sit down to play poker, be sure to mix up your style of play along the way to the final table. Don’t fall into the trap of playing “by the book” — as there is nothing riskier in a tournament than being predictable.

source : bluff