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Old Jan 30, 2007, 1:42pm   #1
IronLen1972
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Default Exercise #2, Tendencies

This is the second article in a series. Sort of. First is here:

http://www.pokertips.org/forums/show...poker+exercise

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.
Flop.
Hero checks.
Playerx raises .8 of the pot.
Big blind folds.
Hero flat calls.
Turn.
Hero Checks.
PlayerX bets pot.
Hero flat calls.
River.
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.
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