Tip 29: Controlling Information

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Poker is a game where if you know more than your opponents you will have a significant advantage over the competition. While luck is a big factor in poker, it is the fight for information that is most important, as it allows people to play poker professionally, because they do have an edge. Most of the time you will want to conceal information about yourself, but you also have to be aware of what information you are letting your opponents see, either intentionally or unintentionally. There will be times when you wish to let your opponents have some information, as you want to compel your opponents to take certain actions. If your opponents are dancing to the tune you called, you can lead them straight into disaster, or simply cause them to make the wrong play.

One fine example of this occurred in a nine player sit and go I was playing on Poker Stars. I had been getting horrible cards, I went almost an entire level without seeing a single face card. After a long period of folding, I finally pick up a hand, pocket queens. I was on the button, so I had a good hand with good position. However, the second player to act pushed all-in, and at this time his stack was only slightly decreased from his starting stack. Another player called, so I made the proper move for this stage in the tournament: I threw my hand away. As it turns out, I would have won the hand, as the raiser had Q-8 and the caller held A-K with unremarkable community cards. One player revealed that they had folded A-Q, and after careful deliberation, I revealed that I had held pocket queens.

Why did I do this? Firs, the other players were starting to realize that I was playing tightly, so by revealing that I had not given in to the temptation to play a big hand in a bad situation, they would come to the conclusion that I truly do only play good cards, and I wouldn’t be making any dumb plays when I held good cards. I wanted to cultivate fear in them, fear that would cause them to fold when I did raise, as my style relies on aggressively forcing other players out of the pot when I enter a hand.

Shortly after revealing that I had pocket queens, I started to pick up hands I was willing to play with in good position. I used these hands to my advantage, raising when I came into the hand, either winning the pot outright or isolating myself against one or two opponents. If I did get callers before the flop, I was always able to make them fold after the flop. My stack was growing, and I became a powerful force at the table without winning a truly big pot.

At one point I looked at my stats, and saw that I had seen eleven flops, and had won ten pots. A couple of those wins came preflop, so that slightly skews the numbers, but the only time I saw the flop and didn’t win the hand was when I was playing for cheap from the blinds. Every time I raised before the flop, I won the hand. I had accomplished my goal of getting the other players to fear me. Also during this time, I had only made it to one showdown, this occurring when I was in the big blind and called the short stack’s all-in, as they only had five more chips than my big blind. I won that pot for the very small win and an elimination.

This is a good example of what can happen if you consider all the information that is available and decide to give your opponents some information in order to gain an advantage. Controlling information is vitally important in poker, and sometimes it is not a bad idea to give some information away.

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