Friday, February 22, 2008

Playing The Players... The Poker 'Axis Of Trickiness'!

With poker being a game of spotting and adapting to the errors of opponents it can seem strange that there is not more written about different player types and playing styles. After all if everyone played 'perfect poker' there would be no long-term winners at all...

The 'standard' way of categorising opponents is into 'loose vs tight' and 'passive vs aggressive'. From this we can derive 4 rough categories of poker playing style: Loose-Aggressive, Loose-Passive, Tight-Aggressive and Tight-Passive. Such labels allow us to adjust our strategy at the table to win the chips... for example by bluffing less into a loose-passive opponent or 3-betting the loose-aggressive player when he raises in late position.

Are these 4 categories really the best the poker world can come up with??

Well, today we will try and add one more axis... the PG Poker Axis of Trickiness.

This describes whether the bets, calls and raises made by an individual player give away information about the relative strength of their hand in any given situation.

Now, many players (particularly at the lower stakes) think they are being deceptive or 'tricky' by slowplaying and bluffing too much. This is not the case at all. A player who always (or even mostly) limps or calls pre-flop with aces is not being tricky in the slightest. In fact this player gives away information about their hand when ever they raise (that they do not have aces). Players who think they are tricky with small bets from the blinds into the pre-flop raiser after the flop are actually just spewing chips most of the time - even though they think they are being deceptive!

There are several things to consider here, not least that a balanced strategy between being straight forward and tricky would need to err on the side of 'honesty'. The reason being that we want to raise with good hands and fold bad ones right! Tricky play, particularly post flop, will not make up for playing too many junk hands out of position.

Ok, so if we are going to define trickiness as the ability to play hands without giving away too much information on their relative strength we have to note just one further thing.... that an individual who can conceal his holding from opponents at 50c / $1 poker may be completely transparent to opponents at $3 / $6...

The next question is how do we use the 'Axis of Trickiness' while at the tables?

Going to look at this in some future posts (so bookmark PG today!), firstly we have to add this element to the traditional characteristics... so:

Loose-aggressive-tricky
Loose-aggressive-straightforward
Loose-passive-tricky
Loose-passive-straightforward:

And so on for the tight players... and suggest how to spot and adjust to the differences,

The second question to ask concens the optimum amount of deception against opponents at various levels... while bearing in mind our objective of building a big pot when ahead. This is a wider question which also requires looking at the methods of 'tricky' play while at the tables.

Ok, getting a fair few part #2's to complete at the moment... will try and clear up some middles and ends over the next couple of days.

GL at the tables, Mark

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