When I watch poker tournaments on television, I often see a player that is dominating a table. All of the action at the table appears to involve their decisions within a hand. Even when they fold, they have controlled the hand to some degree. Every decision made by their opponents takes into account if they have acted, if they still have a chance to act and what they have already done in the hand.
This usually occurs when a seasoned professional is at a table with quite a few less experienced players, but there are a few professionals that can exert this type of control even on a table full of veterans. Though there are others, the two that jump to mind are Gus Hansen and Phil Laak. There are a few characteristics that these players share, such as a very aggressive playing style; very unpredictable play and they both play very well after the flop.
The position of forcing your opponents to act through you is a very powerful one.Sadly, most of us just aren’t good enough to make this happen for long stretches of time. It is easy to master some of the traits important to this style like aggressive and unpredictable play, but it is difficult to master the whole package. These players seem to play more hands than normal solid players, which if you have read anything about being a great poker player, you have been told that playing tight is the path to good play.
The key word seems. They may play a few more hands than normal, but with the focus of the entire table on them, it doesn’t always mean that they are playing too many hands. This brings us to the areas where these players excel while we struggle. Their play after the flop is world class, they have a thorough understanding of betting patterns and pot odds, both actual and implied, and they are totally fearless.
So to recap, here are the areas where we want to emulate the professionals:
- Aggressive play
- Unpredictable play
- Strong post flop play
- Understanding of betting patterns
- Understanding of pot odds, both actual and implied
Fearlessness at the table
Join me in making a goal for the upcoming year to improve our game in everything on the list, and hopefully we will be able to dominate a table soon.
Until next week, good luck at the tables!