BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: APRIL 3, 2012
Got Poker Opponents Who Bug You? Here’s What You Should Do
A reader in Illinois asks today about dealing with different types of characters at the table. Let’s try to help.
Q: It seems like there’s always one player at the table who throws me off my game with table-talk, wild betting or some other weird activity. Why can’t I find games with normal players? — Mark S. in Rock Island, Ill.
A: You’re asking the wrong question, Mark.
Poker, probably because of its blend of risk-taking and social connections, always has attracted a hodgepodge of humanity. Young, old, loud, quiet, sober, drunk, degenerate, skilled — they’re there, every time you play.
So, the correct question is: How do I handle players who bug me? Here are some tips:
* Mr. Expert: If there’s a guy at your table who badmouths other players’ decisions and acts like he should win every pot, you could get distracted. Resist the urge to “show him a thing or two” just to shut him up.
That would be a mistake. If he directs a nasty comment your way, shrug and say something like, “Hey, I just play ‘em like I see ‘em.” Don’t get into a spat with the guy; that’s exactly what he wants.
Usually this type of player will burn through a rack or two of chips and leave the game fuming. Play solid, and try to get a few of those chips when the opportunity comes.
* Wild Man: Almost always there will be someone at the table who bets more aggressively than you. When that player is a true wild man, your decisions on when to play or fold get tougher. You can get confused.
Your first step is to make sure you’re seated two or three spots to this player’s left. Your decisions get clearer when you have position on this guy, acting behind him. Just ask the dealer for a seat-change button, then move when you can.
Don’t worry too much if he pushes you off a lot of hands with his bets. You’re looking for those lucrative spots when he tries to push but you’ve got the goods. Use his aggression against him.
Sometimes, that’ll mean re-raising to isolate his likely weak cards, and other times you’ll just call his bets and show him a winner at the end.
* The Drunk: Although you know not to mix too much alcohol with trying to play winning poker, you’ll regularly run into players without that self-control.
Your mission is to determine if the player, however disruptive he or she might be to the game, is truly out of control or remains capable of making sound, even cagy, plays.
It’s pretty easy to feign intoxication to gain an edge on opponents. Be wary of the fake drunk.
Truly intoxicated opponents generally fall into two categories — happy or mean. If your drunken opponent is having a good time, go along with the merriment, but stick to your solid game.
A mean drunk takes the fun out of playing, however. If the player isn’t removed by management, I would change tables.
Poker is a people game played with cards, Mark. You don’t always get to choose your opponents, so your task is to be ready with a counter-strategy for anyone and anything when you play.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit creators.com or luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 RUSS SCOTT
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