Tip 28: Preflop Posturing

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Poker is a game where players who know more than their opponents have an advantage, and the battle of information has a direct relation to how the ensuing battles of chips and cards turn out. The more information you have, and the sooner you get it, the better you will do. Knowing the tendencies of your opponents is a crucial part of preflop play. If you analyze preflop play accurately, you will end up either winning more chips, or losing fewer, which is a very basic fundamental of playing winning poker.

One very important principle of preflop play is to never look at your cards until it is your turn to act. Instead, you should be watching the other players look at their cards, as the moment they first see their cards is one of the moments where it is easiest to spot a tell and discern whether or not they are pleased with the hands they have been dealt. Even the most imperceptible of faces can sometimes reveal its owner’s thoughts. If you are able to spot a tell before your opponent has even started to think of what action they are going to take, you already have the advantage, especially in a short-handed game where you know most of the players.

Once it is your turn to act you can put to good use the information you have already attained. If you believe that a person acting behind you has caught a good hand, it is best to fold all but the strongest of hands. If a person in front of you limped in or made a weak raise, the alarm bells should be reverberating inside your head, and you should get out quick. On the other hand, if you see weak cards reflection in your opponents’ reactions, then making a strong raise could be advisable.

If you aren’t able to get a definitive read on your opponents, you must then rely on playing good positional poker, using the strength of your cards and your position at the table to see you through. In addition to reasoning out what your actions should be, you should also try and deduce what your opponents’ reasoning could be. After all, just because an opponent raises that doesn’t mean they have a good hand.

If you’re sitting in one of the blinds and a player on the button raises after action was folded around to him, he could easily be making a play to try and steal the pot. This is a situation where the more you know about your opponent, the better you will be. Is your opponent the kind of person who would try and steal the blinds with a junk hand, or are they the kind of person who only raises if they do indeed have a good hand. If you know your opponent and can identify what moves they are willing to make, then you have more information to make your decisions with. If you think that your opponent could be making a play, than the correct decision would be to reraise, seeing how he or she reacts to the pressure being boomeranged onto them.

While preflop play may seem simple at first glance, wait for good cards, play in good position, and the like, there are many different facets of play to be aware of. If you keep an eye on your opponents, understand how they play, and can deduce the reasoning they use for some of their plays, you can play in such a way that makes them uncomfortable and try to win pots when you know more about your opponents than they do of you.

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