The Poker Lab Rat

December 4, 2009

Poker Strategy: Do not Waste Money on Advertising

Filed under: General Blog Rant,Poker News & Views,pro tips — Mike @ 10:46 pm

Steve Zolotow poker theorist and professional poker playerTable image can be a very powerful tool at the poker table, especially in ring games where you can expect to play a long session against the same opponents. But when it comes to tournament play, trying to project a certain table image can often times prove to be a futile endeavor. Your attempt might end up costing you precious chips now without gaining a later advantage, since you may be at a different table against different opponents a few minutes later.

Many players try to project a table image that is exactly the opposite of how they actually play. Tight players might try to project a loose table image by showing a bluff early on, while loose players trying to project a tight image aim to showdown a hand with the nuts so other players think they only play premium hands.

While doing this might result in winning a big pot somewhere down the line, it can also cost you chips to “sell” this specific table image. You really have to ask yourself if losing this equity early in a tournament is worth the potential equity that may or may not be gained later. It is usually not worth making a suspect early bluff to convince your opponents that you’re a maniac. Even if they believe you, you might move tables. Are you really willing to invest more chips to sell that image again?

My advice, especially for novice players, is to let your cards determine your table image. If you’re running hot to start a tournament and winning a lot of pots without going to a showdown, you’ll develop an aggressive table image. This can lead to winning a few big pots down the line, especially if you run into a situation where you pick up a monster hand but your opponent puts you on a bluff. But be cautious about trying to steal pots, since your opponents are more likely to suspect your bets and raises.

Likewise, if you start a tournament by getting bad hands and folding a lot, you’ll develop a tight table image. If you pick your spots right, this tight image will enable you to pull off a few nice bluffs and pad your chip stack with some extra ammunition. You might also pick up a good hand that doesn’t get called. If you show it, it will reinforce their perception of you as a tight player, and create more bluffing opportunities.

I am by no means advocating playing poker strictly based on what hands you’re dealt. You always need to be aware of the other factors in play at your table. But letting the cards do the work for you is a risk-free and effective way to establish a table image. Otherwise, you’re essentially paying for a billboard above your head that either says, “Loose Player: I will bluff you,” or, “Tight Player: I’m waiting for Aces.” Image creating plays work best against moderate opponents who don’t know your game very well. Superior players will quickly work out your style – loose, tight, or a combination (gear-shifter). Playing well is a lot more important than creating an erroneous image.

Or, to put it another way, don’t waste your money on advertising. You are not a salesman, you’re a poker player.

a5_wSteve is a renowned game theorist who has been around poker, like, forever. His nicknames are “Z” and “The Bald Eagle” and he has 2 WSOP Bracelets.

2h_wCheck out the latest online poker room reviews here at Gooners Guide to Gambling

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