Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mimicry - Using Your Opponents Betting Tendencies Against Them...

Actually watched 2 Poker X Factor videos last week... have been a member since Nov 2006 and used to really enjoy the new series as they appeared. To be fair the offerings now are even better than when I first joined, with new instructors and some big-name online pros.

What changed was me - poker is now business rather than liesure - and so time spent watching PxF vids feels like 'work' and has to hold its own in the 100's of other competing tasks on a day-to-day basis!

Anyway, Bax is still great at narrating the vids and something he said in a recent series triggered the idea for this post - on mimicry.

Bax was dealt a big pair and saw a limp ahead, previously the limper had raised 6x with kings (they were v deep at the start of a tourney) and Bax said he was not going to make a bigger than standard raise - so as not to alert this player that he had a big hand... this was almost just a passing comment and easily missed, but to me it was something significant - in Plan3t Gong style it was something 'worthy of thinking about' a little further.

In essence this player had made a big raise with a big starting hand and thus would be likely (conciously or otherwise) to put an opponent on a big hand if they made a similar raise themselves. What I wanted to do was to expand this idea into common situations we might enounter at the tables. My thought is even opponents who are not yet at the level of thinking required to 'put you on a hand' will react to strong and weak signals - and that those signals are often based on what they perceive the 'correct' play to be in various situations.

*** Quick disclaimer, going to put a few examples below - these are pretty simplified to illustrate my point and trigger thinking... so no need to send me mails if you do not agree with the exact examples (though more examples / scenarios in the comments could make this post more useful still!). ****

Lets take a tricky trappy opponent (BTW thats most lower level players right? they would rather feel 'smart' by fooling you than maximize ev in many cases). They hit a set and check-call the flop, looking to check-raise the turn... they also implicitly assume that an opponent who spikes a set would almost always do the same. Mimicry can help us in a couple of ways here - leading right out with a set works, since this opponent would rarely consider this line, eliminating most sets / strong hands from this guys range when he does lead of course helps us too. But how about we mimic his c-c / c-r line on occasion when weak, since this is exactly how he plays a monster then we could do this to represent one... (or course check-raising the turn often screams strength, but hey - its just an example!!)

Another common example is that lower level players make small 3-bets with monsters and bigger ones with more vulnerable hands. These players do not want to 'scare away the opposition' when they have that 'invincible' premium pair. Lets mimic them too... but not when we have the goods of course. Small bets are great post flop too... if you know that an indivual makes smaller bets when very strong you can make your bluffs small as a proportion of the pot - maximizing your value for the money invested. And bigger bets against this opponent (! I'm sure you get the picture). Imagine in PLO an opponent who value bets small with the mortal nuts on the river each time... how profitable would bluffing a scare card become here!!?!

One more applies to draws, some players will play these aggressively and others passively... in position some players will raise the flop and check behind on the turn if they fail to hit. Spot one of these and checking the turn becomes a great option when you are strong... you 'appear' to be on a draw so strongly to someone who will regularly play this way that your huge re-raise when they bet the river into you will 'scream' that you missed to them. Of course against the worst opponents more straightforward pot-building plays may be good too.

Anyway, these are just examples - be great to hear your real-life experiences of when and where you have used an oppnents specific betting patterns against them!

Gl at the tables, Mark

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