Sitting down at a new game

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Sitting down at a new game


2008-04-15

Hello again everyone. Itís me, Carrie and today Iíd like to talk to you about a topic that is relevant for pros and amatuers a like, ďWhat do you do when you arrive at a new game?Ē Whether you are a high stakes player feeling out a new poker room, or a weekend warrior sitting at your friends home game for the first time, there certainly is a different mindset when you are in a new environment. Do you jump into the fray and try to establish strength or do you just sit and wait? We all know players out there who use both styles and use them well. After all, itís all a matter of what suits someoneís personality. One thing that is for certain is that when you are at a new table, it is obviously very important that you pay close attention to the game and to the individual players right away.

Most players get so caught up in themselves and their own heads that they don't even make it to this first step. They are so preoccupied with themselves that they miss out on otherís clues. What should you do? You should pay attention. Period. Don't start running your mouth, donít zone out and donít try to look overconfident. The first few minutes you're at the table is the most important time in the game and the sooner you realize this, the better off youíll be.

Once you've sat down, be sure not to rush into any hands. To be honest, I recommend not getting involved in any hands at first.

Any experienced tournament player will tell you that most players are eliminated from tournaments when they are in "shuffle times" (when they are moving from table to table). At these times, playersí minds are not completely focused on the game and this is where mistakes are made.

Hereís an example. Let's say that you sit down at a new table and the table youíve been playing previously was extremely tight so you play aggressively and steal more than your share of pots. You sit at this new table and fall right back into your previously successful aggressive betting pattern. You make an ill-advised move and bust out because you didnít take the time to realize that this table is much looser than the last one.

When I move to a new table or play at a game where I don't know the players, I ordinarily wait a few rounds of betting before I get involved in a hand and often times I wait even longer. Why? Well, this gives me a chance to get to know my opponents before risking any chips. Itís a type of evaluation time where you can learn information about your opponents. Poker is by its nature a game where you need to evaluate constantly but these first few hands is 100% devoted towards just watching my opponents. Iím not saying you should become a folding station and fold your monster pairs. But you should avoid playing those marginal hands that everyone likes to tangle with early on, the ones that can become more profitable later on once you develop some feel for your opponents.

Do you know what else is happening during this time? By taking your time and learning about your opponents, they are getting zero information about you. In fact, the only thing they can really figure out is that they assume youíre a tight player.

Within 10 minutes, even if you haven't won a pot or played a hand youíre opponents are already developing a sense that you donít play garbage hands and will have more respect for you.

What should you be evaluating during this time. Many players believe you should be looking at the face and eyes. Thatís fine but it shouldnít be the only thing. Poker tells are the combination of an entire set of movements and behavior so there are many things you should look out for. Tells, by nature can be complex which is why it is important that you donít reveal the way you think. For some reason, it's a natural tendency in all of us to share our thoughts at the poker table especially when we aren't involved in hands. When you reveal your thinking process, you're giving away information. Donít do it. Donít mention how you noticed that when player A bets big, heís bluffing or when player B starts talking, he has a monster. Youíre letting other players know information youíve gathered while showing them how observant you are. Donít say anything about your observations. This isnít a team sport.

I hope these tips help you out. You certainly canít profit from all of the other poker skills youíve learned if you go bust quickly because you didnít take time to evaluate the table.



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