Changing Gears

Good No Limit Hold Em tournament players can figure out the odds for any situation. They will know their equity in any hand and will play accordingly. Good players also know starting hand requirements, how to label their opponents and know how to play in and out of position. But poker, especially No Limit Hold Em, is a very psychologically based game, and knowing odds does not always ensure good results. The great players have all the skills of a good player, but they also have the instinctive ability to know what the others players are thinking. This is what separates the good players from the very great players. Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are two examples of great poker players that always seem to know what the other players are thinking. They are also “self-taught” poker players, meaning they never read any books and never joined any poker training sites. They have natural, instinctive ability to read opponents.

When to Change Gears

One of the major factors a player has to consider in a poker tournament is his table image. That is, how the other players label the player. Do they think he is Tight-Aggressive, or Loose-Aggressive? It is important to consider this, because they will play according to how they label the player. If the opponents think he is loose, they will play tight etc. Therefore, a player must always be conscious of his own image. What many players fail to do is change their image during a tournament.

For example, some players sit down at the start of a tournament and play aggressively right from the start and they do not stop the aggression. Well, this is very bad strategy, since it will be easy for the other players to play against him. They will just wait for premium hands, and take a lot of money from him. Some just play tight poker and only play premium hands, which is also bad.

Great players however, change gears when the other players have labeled him. For example, when players think Phil Ivey is playing loosely, he will then start too tight. When they think is being passive, he will get more aggressive. He adjusts according to what his opponents think.

Changing gears will make it impossible for opponents to know how to play optimally, since they cannot know if you are raising with AA or 67s. Learn how to change gears in tournaments and your opponents will become surprisingly easier to play against.