Sizing up your opponents onlineArticle By: RuffPoker.com
With the explosion of online poker there has been an influx of players picking their wits against one another with stratospherically different levels of poker playing ability and experience. With it comes the crucial skill of sizing up opponents. Now, I have heard professional poker players and seen many very good ‘live’ poker players struggle to come to terms with the online style, let alone make it as profitable for them as real table poker. They say that online poker is just too ‘virtual’ and unambiguous, that you cannot play poker over such a medium because you cannot use your skills of perception to make appropriate actions, decipher your opponent’s reactions and pick up other vital psychological clues. Indeed for the very top level of poker players of world championship standard this is true. You need to be sat at a live table to embrace the complete and purest form of poker. However by bringing the game of poker online, and as it has taken the world by storm, online Texas holdem is only ever going to be a profitable experience for those who truly size up their opponents in a ‘virtual’ sense.
This involves much more discrete cue’s and tactics than normal ‘live’ poker play, it involves other fascinating and complex thought processes. For example you must appreciate that people cannot see your face and use it as an advantage, they do not know what your pauses are the result of, and they can be fooled into thinking you are something you are not with every action you make, be it the showing of a monster or the laying down of a free check. As online poker reaches far and wide, opportunities to find poker tables consisting of average players can always be found. Certainly, to be successful you have to be able to size up your opponents online, and even though some pro’s say it is impossible, there are several things to look out for which will help you to be a successful online poker player.
Without doubt the most important factor when sizing up your online opponents is effectively assessing each individual’s style of play. You will never be successful unless you can work out each player’s level of aggression? When they call and raise? How they play certain hands? If they have the ability to make a bluff or slow play with a monster? As millions now play online poker you stand a good chance of finding many players who don’t have these skills of perception, however as the game has grown in popularity the opportunities to find these players have decreased. The vast majority of online poker players have the ability to size up their online opponents, however what most lack is an ability to handle multiple person assessments. Such is the speed of the game and the quick turnaround of players at tables it is very difficult to size up all of your opponents at any given table unless of course the table remains the same for a considerable period of time.
That said, you must look at how successful your opponents have been in conjunction with their style of play and table image. It is very easy for an aggressive player to take down minor pots when holding nothing if they are bullying a passive group of opponents, but it only takes one clever player to size up this situation and hit a hand or two to expose this over confidence. In such a situation the loose players aggressive nature would work against them when their opponent flops a monster and knows from previous hands that they are up against a player who likes to go in with marginal hands. Here the clever player can slow play to maximise the pot. This sizing up of an opponent also seriously enhances a players table image as opponents will be ultra cautious trying such moves again, whether it was them that was stung on not.
When sizing up your opponents as passive players you are in a far greater position to steal pots with marginal hands and even when holding nothing at all. When sizing up opponents as aggressive you have to be able to sit tight and wait for the right opportunity, knowing they will bet once too often and as a result their aggression will backfire against them. Remember it only takes one hand for you to turn that slow loss into a major profit. Size up your opponents style, betting behaviour and how they play certain cards, and most of all be patient. When you combine these two skills you will have sized up your opponent correctly and have the advantage of not only playing to your own strengths but also of being able to use what your opponents perceive to be their own strengths as weaknesses against them.