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TEXAS HOLDíEM A TO Z:

"E" IS FOR EVALUATING PLAYERS

by Bill Burton

Bill Burton is the author of 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets available at www.billburton.com, and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em available at www.bjinsider.com. He is an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com

 

Many players will sit down in a Texas Holdíem game and play as if they are wearing blinders. They see only their own two cards and the cards on the board. They give little or no regard to the other players at the table. This is not the way to play winning poker. Poker expert Mike Caro believes that you will make more money from your opponentís mistakes than you will from your own fancy play. Therefore, in order to be successful you will need to study and evaluate your opponents at the table simply because you wonít be able to capitalize on their mistakes if you are not aware of which players are making them.

When I first started playing poker I thought it would be difficult to read the other players because Iíd be sitting down in a game with strangers that I had never played against. Itís true that in a low limit game you may not be able to determine the exact hand a player may have as they might be playing any two cards, but you can get a general idea about the types of hands they play. You do this by paying attention at the table even when you are not involved in a hand. You always want to watch any time there is a showdown since this gives you valuable information about the type of starting hand your opponent is playing. In low limit games many players will play any two suited cards or a single ace from any position. Knowing this can be valuable information. If a player plays any two suited and three suited cards that appear on the board you know you are probably up against a flush. Likewise, if a player is known for playing any ace and an ace comes up on the board, you can bail out and save money if you canít beat a pair of aces.

You will find that most players will fall into several common categories based on what hands they play and how they play the hands at the table. Players can be loose or tight along with being passive or aggressive. You can mix and match these categories and break the majority of players down into four basic groups.

Loose-Passive

This group is also known as the calling station. They will play many hands but will not play them strongly. A calling station will cold-call two raises before the flop and stay until the river, looking for that miracle draw. Even if it is clear that they are beaten, they will sometimes call just to keep you honest or to see what you had. There are some downsides to the calling station. They are the ones who will inflict the worst bad beats on you because of the cards they are playing and the fact they are staying to the end.

Loose-Aggressive

These types of player are the maniacs at the table. They crave action and want as much of it as possible. They will play many hands and will be betting and raising at every opportunity. This is the player you want to have sitting on your right so you can fold your weaker hands when they go into action. The problem with the maniac is that you never know what hand they are raising with. These players will cause the biggest fluctuation in your bankroll. They also will contribute to some of your biggest wins.

Tight- Passive Players

Tight-passive players are sometimes referred to as rocks. They play only premium starting hands, but they don't play them strongly, opting to check and call rather than bet raise or check-raise. When a rock makes a bet you can be sure he has a very strong hand. If you have been paying attention to the players in the game, you will be able to spot the rock at your table. You will lose to the rock if you do not have a strong hand. They hardly ever bluff, so when you are raised by one of these players you will save money by mucking your hand if you don't have anything near the nuts.

Tight-Aggressive

A tight aggressive player is a force to deal with. If this is not you, then it should be your roll model. This is the type of player you want to be. A tight aggressive player is selective about the hands they play but they play them very aggressively when they do play.

Pay Attention

When you can evaluate the players at your table your game will improve if you use the information you gained at the table. Itís not as hard as it seems but you must pay attention or you will miss out on some valuable information. The easiest time to gain information is when you are not involved in a hand because you can devote all of your attention to the players who are.

Like other poker skills, you must work on your evaluation skills it to improve them but it will be worth the effort and it is necessary if you want to be a winning poker player.

 

Until next time, remember:

"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"

 

 

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