Table imageThis article was posted on August 8, 2007
As we all know, good poker players do not sit around waiting for value to just happen upon them. Since a confused opponent has exactly 50% chances of doing the one thing you don't want him to do, obviously, you don't want to have to deal with confused opponents. A truly successful poker player manipulates his/her opponents, makes them believe the wrong thing, and makes them do what he/she wants them to do.
In order to be able to efficiently manipulate your opponents, you need to project the right kind of table image. The problem is, as it usually happens, this whole "table image" - thing is a lot more complicated than it sounds.
First of all, it depends a lot on whether you're playing the player or you're playing the cards. You see, at lower limits, people don't exactly pay a lot of attention to the actions of their opponents, not to mention the fact that there is a lot of multi-tabling going on at these limits. Multi tabling players only play the cards, so there's no use in going through a lot of trouble to mislead, when nobody is really paying attention to you.
In high-limit play, table image becomes the very essence of the game. People cannot afford not to pay attention to you, and they cannot even afford to think about multi-tabling such stakes. Naturally, it pays to work for your image at these tables.
There are several things you'll have to pay attention to while trying to project the right kind of image:
- If you plan to look like a maniac, be careful not to blow too many resources on the whole deal. It has to be lucrative, and if it costs you more to build up the image than the money you'll get out of the whole setup, you're missing the point.
What you need to do is reach a few showdowns on rags, show the others what you're made of, and raise pre-flop on weak starting hands. That'll do enough to make the others think of you as a maniac, but be very careful not to act loose after the flop. Always tighten up then, or you'll end up paying to much for the image.
There are three basic images you can choose to project at the table: the maniac, the tight image, and the unpredictable one. You have to know what you're after when you decide to act one way or the other, so here goes:
The maniac. When all the other players see you as a maniac, they'll start playing you like they would play a maniac. They'll know that the hands that you act on can't be better than what they get all the time, so they'll be on the lookout for the right moment to keep you honest.
If you manage to pick up the vibes as to when they reckon the moment has come, you can take a huge advantage of a possible strong hand you happen upon. Whenever you get something strong, act just as loose and aggressive on it, as you have before. If the other players don't catch on to the game you're playing, chances are, one or more of them will keep calling and even re-raising you when you have the nuts.
The tight image is meant to give you an edge when bluffing. A tight player will have a lot of credit whenever he commits on something. People will assume that you have something good if you decide to shove chips into the pot, and they'll naturally feel threatened. If you project a tight image, you have to bluff every now and then, as that's the only way to take advantage of that situation.
The unpredictable image. The good side of this one is that you won't be read, the down-side is that by being unpredictable, you'll keep your opponents confused, something that you don't really want to do, for the reasons mentioned in the beginning of this article.
One last thing: you have to be really flexible about displaying these images. It will sometimes be required that you change your projected image several times at the very same table.