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Inside the Poker Tour (42)
'Prototyping Your Opponent'
In order to sensibly act you have to know something about your
opponent. If I dryly give you the correct action in every situation,
even if my suggestions are mathematically sound, I am doing a
disservice, as clearly what I am offering is incomplete. When
you know nothing about your opponents because they have not acted
yet you often have to make an educated guess using your experience
historically based on the way they dress, their jewelry, the way
they handle their chips or cards, the way they stack their chips,
how many chips they have, and even such politically incorrect
details as their apparent hygiene. If all these possibilities
leave you with no information the thing to do is to act like you
are dealing with a mathematical model. After a few orbits of the
table you will likely get the clues you need to temper your own
actions—they will play too many hands, or no hands, and
likely a few hands of theirs will be put face up on the felt.
Usually matching any action pattern with a few exposed hands gives
you all the information you need to prototype them.
Once we have some clues as to how they act we can put them into
our schemata. By assigning them to an animal caricature that we
have pre-selected we are giving our memory an assist in that we
will make them into a prototype—lion, fox, pig, donkey,
sheep, monkey, weasel, Chihuahua, rabbit, or lemming.
In order to reinforce the nature of these animals I will give
a brief explanation of the character that each is known for.
The lion is king of the jungle and goes where he wishes, when
he wishes. Everyone respects him and his play, he is quite straightforward,
good but not very tricky—he usually has it when he plays
a pot. Think Erick Lindgren.
The fox is sneaky and clever, at the poker
table he might show you any two from any position at any time
played in any manner. You never know quite what to expect, except
that he will most likely play well in all situations. Imagine
The pig likes to get the right odds for his draw, by right odds
I mean an overlay, he will let more players in if he holds a volume
hand such as KQ suited, and hopes to win larger pots by making
the best possible hand in those pots.
The donkey is nothing if not stubborn. If he wants to take a
flop with AQ it will not matter if there are already three raises
in front of him by the Smith brothers, he will still take the
flop. He plays too many hands and calls too many bets while in
those hands. If he flops a flush draw he will go to the flag with
it, no matter what.
The sheep is passive and easily led to slaughter, as long as
the bets are not too large he will call to keep you honest and
make sure the right person wins the pot. He is very predictable.
The monkey is too clever for his own good, he will check with
the best possible hand all the way to the river, or bet and bluff
when it is a little too obvious that he has holy city or nothing,
but if he had holy city he likely will check!
Weasel will check-raise a lot, he will come forward with a lot
of chips and then just check or call depending on what others
do behind him (if he is allowed to). He will try to interpret
the letter of the rules in his favor. He misrepresents the strength
of his hand as much as possible and often gives off reverse tells.
Chihuahua plays way too many hands, almost always tries to steal
the blind in an uncontested pot when he is the first one into
the pot and in late position. He will also usually fire a continuation
bet if he has position, and sometimes even if he does not have
position. He will also call if he has position with a very weak
hand in hopes of being able to bluff on the following street.
Mister rabbit is the church lady at the table, too polite and
too passive to be dangerous. Calls off most of his chips and will
not bet unless he holds the best possible hand on the river, timid
for sure but respect his bets! Okay to bluff him early on, but
not if he bets or raises on the river!
Lemming is the maniac of the table, at times he seems to be determined
to go off the cliff without a parachute. He seems oblivious of
who his opponent is or what they might hold. He will re-raise
with A7 or Q-10 or 95 suited or even worse and delights in being
able to show some unexpected winners, especially against the rabbit,
the pig, the lion, the donkey, and the fox. Call him ignorant
and unpredictable, but keep your opinion to yourself as you will
not only feed his ego if you say anything he will come after you
from all angles and the flurry of bets and raises will be difficult
to decipher as they will not necessarily mean a thing except that
you are in his crosshairs! He seems to thrive on negative energy,
often loves to talk trash and may get ecstatic if he is able to
put you on tilt!
Having said that I must also get the caution flag out of my pocket
and throw it onto the field! This warning is because you cannot
allow a few hands in any certain situation override the possibility
that something unexpected may arise. The maniac at the table can
pick up AA, remember that. The tightest player you have ever seen
might decide to make his first bluff since the Carter administration,
so remember that. If you forget this reality it will smack you
up alongside the head. Also keep in mind that some players will
play very differently once the antes begin, or for various reasons
once we are in a later part of the tournament.
On top of these possibilities are heaped many others such as
what mood the player is in. His mood can be created by many things,
what happened to him on the past few hands he played, his blood
sugar, what his wife just said to him on the phone, or simply
that he did not get enough sleep.
Whatever prop you might use as an aide, if it works for you then
it works! If you choose to use self-hypnosis, or affirmations,
or wish to repeat "a powerful positive force surrounds me"
when you find yourself holding your breath, then do so without
holding back in any way. There is no reason to feel guilty about
finding things that resonate with you and work! There is also
no reason to try and sell what works for you to others, so I suggest
you find the 'sweet spot' and just use it without talking about
it. If someone else is genuinely interested they will ask.
So until next time... play good, and get lucky!
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