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IronLen1972 Jan 30, 2007 1:42pm

Exercise #2, Tendencies
This is the second article in a series. Sort of. First is here:

My first article, in case you don't want to go that far, was a series of easy exercises designed to help get you stretched out and ready to play poker. The second article is designed to really work the muscle, and build strength in your game.

I re-read my article after some additional thought and discussion with some of my poker friends. First of all, my thoughts really didn't make alot of sense in relation to the goal - be a better poker player and make more money. Also they didn't reflect what I wanted to say, it wasn't really what I was doing or thinking.

The second exercise is NOT about identifying weak or strong players. Rather, it is about finding an exploitable tendency in a player. The more exploitable tendencies a player has, obviously the weaker that player is.
As in the first exercises, this is can and is recommended to be done from the rail. Once proficient, it is an exercise, just like the first, that should be done while your chips are at the table. Between playable hands, I find myself trying to do this automatically.

At the open table, you should already have started to try and put people on hands, guess ranges, and identify what sort of player they are. Loose Aggressive, Tight Aggressive, Weak Tight, etcetera. You now have alot of information floating around that frontal lobe. What more is there?
Betting patterns for one. Knowing what sort of player is one step, the next is knowing their pattern. Some things to watch for initially would be things like:

1. How often does player fold on the flop to a continuation bet?
2. How often does the player re-raise?
3. How often does the player fold on the turn? On the river?
4. How much does the player bet with different ranges of cards?
5. Does the player make standard or irregular raises? Is their a pattern?
6. Does the player use the pre-selected action boxes and then fold to any bet?

There are countless variations. (It would be a nice constructive addition to this post if PTippers added some of their own patterns to look for) Identifying patterns in betting along with general classification is crucial to the final step. Proposing a counter attack to seperate the player from their chips effectively. You know their range. You have a discernable pattern to their bets. Now make a play.
An example, taken right from a game I was just observing at 25NL. PlayerX is in alot of pots. Estimated the percentage of times Playerx voluntarily enters a pot around 35-40%. Each time he enters the pot he limps in, or calls a minimum raise. The times he isnt in the pot is usually the three positions immediately following the big blind. The two times he did go into the pot from those positions he was holding premium cards and raised 8 times the blind. Each time he enters a pot, he continuation bets the pot if unraised 100% of the time for over half the pot up to a pot size bet. He folded on the turn to a re-raise several times.
So what do we know? We know that this is a fairly LAG player who will raise with the goods, and limp in with almost any speculative hand. A player like this is playing small pot poker trying to take as many blinds down as possible. The player that nearly stacked him did it in the following way:

With only the hero, one player, playerx (sb) and the big blind left to act and folded around.
The hero makes a minimum raise.
The middle player between the hero and playerx folds.
The big blind calls.
Hero checks.
Playerx raises .8 of the pot.
Big blind folds.
Hero flat calls.
Hero Checks.
PlayerX bets pot.
Hero flat calls.
Playerx bets out 1.5x pot.
Hero raises all in.
Playerx folds.

The term for this play is commonly called floating by the way. I don't know if the hero had the goods or not, but his read, and play suggest to me that it really didnt matter. He knew the range of cards for playerx, knew that he would bet 100% of the time, and simply let playerx get out some rope to hang with. My notes read 40% VPIP (voluntarily put into pot) 100%CB (100% continuation bet) LAG -Float. So if I see this player, I will know that a float play worked well against him.

It is first and second level thinking applied with third level action that will make you alot better than 99% of the players out there. The popular poker axiom of "What do they have, what do they think I have?" is only as good as what you do with that information.

Hopefully by sitting down and looking for exploitable tendencies in players (even strong players have tendencies if closely watched) your game will gain more edges to cut into the stacks at the table.

Snaggle Jan 30, 2007 10:41pm

One should not really type players into the four classic types: loose passive; tight passive; loose aggressive and tight aggressive;instead one should try to observe how they're aggressive or passive.

[ace] Huggers-these guys love aces,they'll play them out of any position and they don't care at all about position or kicker or whether or not there has been a raise " by God I've got an ace and am going to play it '.The ones I tag loose huggers will start to raise when their ace without kicker hits while the tight huggers just call-both are great to play hands like AK-AJ against even for fairly large, huggers often call down my second and third barrel only to lose to my better Ace high:cool:

[flush+straight] Chasers-they love to chase and their normal pattern is to just call against pot odds and then throw out a large bet when they hit. What I also need to observe is are they loose chasers calling down with junk hands like low suited connectors and one gappers and are they fast chasers that will bet their draws.These guys are perfect to play Ace flush draws against fast,especially when you have more than one overcard and can win even if the flush misses.

Dogs-they just can't let go of pairs,especially top pair.They'll play for their whole stack with an overpair or top pair top kicker,the tight ones will do it with two pair the loose ones with any top pair and they're the ones who call down with middle pair or even raise their stacks away with middle pair.

[Out of ] Bounders-these whether lose or tight play weak hands, like: KJ; QJ;KT;QT; AXS; KTs-K9s; QTs-Q9s; JTs and J9s; T9s; 98s; 87s; 76s; 65s; 54s, out of any position and often are dogs when any of them hits.

Next are they generally slow players or fast players. A passive slow player is one one the easiest to take down for a large pot as they'll often give one pot odds to chase and pay one off when one hits,while players who play too fast will tell one that one is beaten by coming over the top of you, both are obvious weaknesses.

I also want ot note whether a player

Paint limper-limps: AKs-AJs,AK-AJ;KQs and KQ rather than raising them.

Suited limper-limps KJs; QJs; KTs; QTs; JTs and ATS-A9s even in late position.

Small pair limper-limps 66-22,the lose ones limping in early position with them.

Pair limper-limps 77-99

Big limper-limps QQ-TT playing them just for sets and over pairs.

Next if a player raises Paints does he c-bet? The same for small pairs,middle pairs(77-99) and big pairs TT-QQ.

With true big pairs AA and KK will the player go AI preflop with KK and are they lose enough to do it with lesser pairs and AK? If a player will go AI with QQ-TT , AKs and AK preflop I'll tag them as a "plunger".

Is a player a [blind] stealer?

Is the player a hammer,who will use position to steal pots?

If a player c-bets,how many barrels will they fire? What do they do if you come over the top of them? If they fire just one barrel do they check their made hands on the turn too or continue to bet them? Same question for two barrlel shooters.Usually I denote those firing one barrel as "c-bettors" and those firing two or more as "shooters".

If they call are they going to try and buy if you slow down at all or may be reraise the turn or river to steal.If I see someone doing this I'm going to tag them as a "popper" and might even slide the bar against them with nothing or top pair top kicker.Poppers are just like c-bettors and shooters-if you come over the top of them they usually fold.

Next what slows down a player? A paired board? a consecutive board? A suited board? an overcard? I want to know just who is slown down by these flops and can be bluffed out.If they're not slowing down do they slow down on the turn? If they don't slow down I'm going to tag them a juggernaut and play board sets against them much more aggressively and consider chasing against them.I also want to know which of these a player will bluff at.

I also want to know if they change gears and whether they change what they limp with and raise with? Does a player in a big stack become more or less aggressive.

jimmytrick Jan 31, 2007 1:18am

I honestly think that you would have to play tens of thousands of hands to build a reliable profile of a player in that detail.

There are some really good points in there, I especially like the question of what slows a player down?

Snaggle Jan 31, 2007 7:05am

Ty Jimmytrick. The first four:hugger;chaser;dog and bounder are really measures of looseness and are fairly easy to observe and fairly constant session to session as is whether they play fast or slow. The others are mainly tags for passivity or aggression and are harder to see and also maybe less constant.Whether they're stealers,c-bettors,shooters,poppers and hammers is also fairly obvious as is what slows them down and what they'll bluff at.

The others are much harder to tell,e.g. in my only playing I'll either raise all pairs and do c-bets with them while limping AK-AJ and KQ even suited to create the impression I'm a rock or alternately just raise AA-99 while raising AK-AJ and KQ,more rarely I'll raise them all.I tend to play more aggressively against passive players and more passively against aggressive ones looking to either "pop" them or trap them.

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