The key to becoming a winning poker player is to learn the fundamentals that will make your game consistently strong. Once you do that, and become a winning player in smaller games, you’ll need to add some deception to your game in order to compete at higher levels.
A straightforward ABC strategy works against average players. However, against more perceptive opponents, you’ll need deception to keep them from easily getting a read on your play.
Okay, let’s look at a few methods.
You can slowplay aces several ways, making this an effective ploy from time to time. One method is to limp in by just calling the opening bet rather than raising. Limping in usually signifies a weaker hand like small suited connectors or small pairs.
By limping in with aces you might entice another player to raise before the flop. He may figure you for a weaker hand. At that point, you can reraise before the flop, or you can continue slowplaying the hand until the flop hits.
But what if there’s been a pre-flop raise?
Well, another tricky way to play pocket aces is by only calling an opponent’s pre-flop raise.
Since opponents are likely to believe that you’d reraise with aces, smooth calling helps to disguise the power of your hand. Even if they catch onto the fact that you occasionally make these plays, it will help to keep them off your back; they won’t know if you have 8s-9s or A-A, since you’re willing to play both hands the same way.
Raise with Suited Connectors from Early Position
When a good player raises from early position, it’s correct to assume that he has a strong hand. Knowing that, you should fold hands like K-J or K-Q after an early position raise.
However, when you’re that early position player, you can’t play it too ABC. You won’t get maximum value for your better hands because opponents will know that you only play strong cards from early position. Raising with hands like 6s-7s or 8h-9h will be completely unexpected.
You might even get lucky and hit a straight or trips on the flop and end up winning a huge pot.
The good news is that even if you get caught raising with one of these early position hands, it should help you get more action later on when you do raise with strong cards. Your opponents will always be wondering if it’s A-K that you have, or 4h-5h.
Show an Occasional Bluff
Be careful about giving away free information about your hands, but if your opponents catch onto the fact that you’re playing tight, it might be a good idea to show them a well-timed bluff.
Revealing your bluff will keep them guessing and should allow you to go back to playing your normal, straightforward style.
In fact, you don’t have to stop there. Anytime you make an uncharacteristic play — a move that you don’t plan on making for the rest of the session — show your hand. It’s something that you can exploit later.
Always keep this in mind: Mixing up your play is an inexact science. It’s hard to know when it’s the right time to throw in deceptive plays, but as you gain more experience, it’ll be easier to spot the best situations to try them.
Having said that, be very careful not to overdo it. Deceptive play is most effective when seldom employed.
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