Attaining and Maintaining a Tight Table Image

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Oftentimes while playing poker, you will need to make your opponents fold, as you are either making a move to pick up chips, or you are fearful that your hand will not hold up if your opponents can see some more cards. You might have made it to the late stages of the tournament, but find your chip stack dwindling, or you might be simply be trying to steal a cheap pot on the flop. Whenever you are hoping to make your opponents fold, having a tight table image is invariably helpful to your cause.

The most important quality for a poker player who is building up a tight table image is patience. While it may be boring to play only high quality hands, by only playing the top hands when you sit down at a new table, the other players will start to perceive you as a tight player, especially when they start seeing you revealing good hands when brought to a showdown. Remain patient and fold the many mediocre and marginal hands you are dealt.

Once your opponents have you pegged as a tight player who won’t play junk hands, you can start expanding the hands you play. Whereas you might have folded Q-J offsuit while you are building your table image, you can start trying to play the hand when you have good position and the opportunity presents itself. You can also start trying to steal pots, expecting that unless your opponent has a good hand, or is a very loose player, they will fold.

One thing to be aware of though, is that while it takes a while to build a tight table image, it only takes seconds to destroy it. That is why it is imperative that you remain cautious when you are making plays without the hands to back them up. Always fold the horrible hands, even if you have good position, as even if you think you can steal the blinds, if one of the blinds does pick up a hand and call you, you will find yourself in a situation where almost every decision seems to be a bad one, as staying aggressive can lose you both your chips and the respectful fear you’ve garnered from your opponents, while conceding the pot is almost as distasteful. If you find yourself holding a hand that if somebody else played it you would say “What were you thinking?” just fold it and wait for the next hand.

Of course, having a tight table image is worth nothing if you are not aggressive. Even the best of hands won’t win all of the time and the board can reveal all sorts of upsetting possibilities if your opponents continue with the hand. This is why you have built your tight table image, to win pots that you may not have won if the hand had continued to a showdown. With a tight table image and aggressive play, you can put pressure on your opponents, who may not want to enter a hand when you’ve already raised, as they will expect you to be holding a good hand, thereby making their list of playable hands narrower.

Poker is partly about making correct calculations, and you must correctly identify the risks and rewards of every move you make. Where do you draw the line in the list of hands you will play? Is a player going to call you if you make a bet? What hands could your opponent be holding? You need to be able to deduce the answers to the questions that come up in the course of a poker game, relying on your skill to take you where luck alone cannot.

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