The Dynamics of a Poker Game

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There are certain things that we can control in a poker game on sites like 888poker and there are many things that we cannot. For example who sits down in our game and with what size stack is a dynamic that we cannot control. We can game select but how our opponents play is also something that we cannot control as well.

What order our opponents are sitting in around the table and which seat we get are often areas that we cannot control either. So the bottom line is that we are always facing a different situation to any other that we have previously experienced and these are called table dynamics.

At the end of the day then we want to play more pots with fish and less pots with strong players but just how do we define the difference between the two? Well you can broadly tell if your opponent is a true fish (someone with very poor knowledge) by the level that they play at.

These days there are more competent poker players and so fish get punished faster. So once you see players at say the NL50 and NL100 levels then these tend not to be novice players.

So you already know (or you should know) that your opponents are not making huge fish like mistakes. These mistakes include launching huge wacky multi-street bluffs without logical reasons, stacking off with mediocre hands, tilting and limping and calling raises too frequently.

In essence then your opponents are playing a very solid game and your profits will come from a collection of tiny advantages. In six handed games then the dynamic is different again but in the full ring games that I play in then it is a different story. In those games at the stake levels that I play then I know several key things.

The first is that my opponents are playing tightly and this helps me to identify their ranges very well. I also know that the players are reasonably competent and so I know that they will not stack off with less than powerful hands or hands that they perceive to be powerful.

The knock on effect of this is obvious and I also know that my fold equity in escalating pots diminishes rapidly which means that bluffing carries far less weight and is therefore much less effective. I also know that the average stack size isn’t deep even though many players perceive 100bbs to be deep.

If you add up each stack size in an average cash game and then divide by the player number then you will usually get a total of around 80bb-90bb. This means that your implied odds are much less and so hands that need implied odds fare less well.

The domino effect of this series of events means that we have to play a more equity based game in full ring and widening our ranges too much will have a negative effect. Once we understand this then our game really tightens up to a level where it should be.

There are essentially three different types of fish in a poker game and how many of these fish there are alters the game dynamic. Firstly we have what is termed a “weak tight” fish. These players simply play in a very tight way and are nuts orientated.

Each poker player has a bias towards certain types of styles and the way to beat these players is to be more aggressive than them in small pots and bleed them. However you need to be aware of when these types are looking to stack off because when that is the case then you had better watch out.

Then we have what is called the “dumb LAG” or “bad-lag” or “aggro-donk”. This is a player that is needlessly aggressive. However each hand is often played in a vacuum and I have known many good tight-aggressive players that turn into “aggro-donks” around the blinds.

Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. It is folded around to a player that is normally a TAG but is very much a LAG when in position and even a bad-LAG.

They raise on the button and you call from the big blind with Q-Js. You hand is easily comparable with their range and you are a slight hot and cold equity favourite against a 50% range. The flop comes Qh-9d-4s and you can check-call the flop and turn as well for value.

The final type of fish is the calling station and you beat them by simply value betting them more often. I will speak about the three types of fish in my next post which will be coming shortly. Just remember that table dynamics change from hand to hand and no two sets of dynamics are ever the same.

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