Table Image in Poker

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Understanding Your Table Image

Whether you’re playing online poker or live it is always important to be aware of the style of your opponents and also how everyone else views you at the table i.e. your “table image”.  The more information you have on your opponents the better your hand-reads and decision-making will be in later streets.

In fact “table-image” is such an important concept in poker that it is regularly used by experienced players to isolate and narrow down hand ranges for players in different positions.  For example a TAG (tight-agressive) opponent is only going to be 3betting with premium hands AQ+,1010+ in a tournament pre-flop, where as a LAG opponent is much more likely to be 3betting with marginal hands like QK or mid-pairs from position.

Question you should ask yourself in poker are: Are your opponents tight or loose? Weak or aggressive? Skilled or amatuer? Consistent or inconsistent? It is this sort of information which will enable you to make better moves at the table and come out profitable over your opponents.

Use Your Image to Your Advantage

An essential part of table image though, is what do your opponents think of you. Knowing how your opponents view you as a player works very well to your advantage. If you know they see you as tight, you can start bluffing more successfully and your hands will get you better folding equity. If they see you as loose, you can trap them into entering pots when you hit a monster hand – as they still assume you have an average hand or at least have a poor read.  In a six-handed cash game for example I’m regulrly blind-stealing in late position with marginal hands and low pairs on un-raised boards.  Because I present such a loose image and get involve in so many pots pre-flop however, by the time I get my KK I’m getting pair off better than others.

As a general rule, you should try and play the opposite of what your opponents’ expect from you. This completely removes any asssumptions or reads tht they have on you – and trust me the good players at your table will be taking notes or using their HUD displays in stakes above NL50.  Make sure you’re stealing pots now and again or limping into raised pots with marginal hands with implied odds.  Generally, just do anything that will throw your opponents off or make you are more dangerous player.

Always be aware of the image you are giving away at the table. If you’re about to head to a showdown, ask yourself what type of signal this will give to players if they see your hand and style of play. Do you want to muck (not disclose your cards) when you win a good hand, or do you want to show players your bluffing skills in order to lower their confidence or their assessment of you. Unpredictable players will get called less when they make moves. A predictable player who makes the same moves over and over again will get caught out.

Importance of Changing Gears

Make sure you understand the importance of “changing gears” in poker.  This means mixing up your game, going from loose-agressive to tight-agressive etc.  Professionals like Phil Hellmuth are always going on about the importance of “changing gears” and not giving your opponent an easy time figuring you out.  Poker is a game of skill but it’s also a game of reads, and the harder you make it for your opponents to call you the more big pots you’ll win.

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