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Adjusting Play for Game Conditions in No Limit Hold’em

Dynamics of the Table

Lots of newer online poker players have trouble adjusting to the dynamics of the games in which they are playing. That is, if they realize there is a dynamic at all. Many make the mistake of assuming that all games at the same level play the same way. In reality, this could not be farther from the truth.

At any given limit, you will find loose games, aggressive games, tight games, and any combination of the above. In order to consistently profit in all types of No Limit Hold’em games, you need to learn how to adjust to the table dynamic.

Categorize

The first step to adjusting is to identify the table dynamic of the game you are playing. This may seem strikingly obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of players who never bother to analyze their tables. It is a good practice to spend at least your first couple of orbits in a game concentrating heavily on the playing styles of your opponents.

Take note of how many players are seeing flops. If you find that a lot of players are calling preflop in order to see the flop cards, chances are good that you are playing a loose game. Take note of how much raising is going on preflop. If players rarely raise, you are playing a passive game. If nearly every hand is raised preflop, your game is aggressive.

As well as categorizing the game as a whole, make an effort to categorize each individual player at your table. Take note of who the aggressive players are, as you will need to use a different strategy against them than you will against a passive player.

Adjust Your General Strategy

In general, you want to play tighter in a loose/passive game, and looser in a tight game. When more players are seeing flops and calling raises, it becomes harder to win pots with aggression alone. Playing an aggressive game at a table full of calling stations is a recipe for burning money, so you will need to adjust accordingly.

In a tight game, you can loosen up significantly. Your aim should be to steal blinds and take down pots through aggression alone. Tight players are risk-averse, and will look for a reason to fold, rather than a reason to call. Keep that in mind, and raise, raise, raise when you come across a table of nits as they will keep folding until they have a real hand. When they do have a real hand, you’ll know it immediately, as they won’t fold!

Isolate Individual Players

After you’ve made a general adjustment to table conditions, you want to start isolating individual players in pots in order to exploit their style of play. Generally, you want to raise pots when loose players have limped, since you know they will call your raise. You also know that when you raise into a consistent limper, your hand is likely miles ahead of theirs. Do not be afraid to build pots against loose players- strive to build big ones while your hand is the best.

On the other hand, in tighter games you want to be taking advantage of tighter players who can’t fold their good starting hands. Most nitty players are unable to fold hands like AK, AQ, or TT even when they do not hit anything postflop. Take advantage of this by playing more suited connectors and marginal hands in raised pots with tight players. Playing something like 56 suited against a tight player’s KK is a great way to make profit- you will often flop a straight or a flush, and your tight opponent will be unable to lay down his hand. Getting all in with a monster hand against a nit’s overpair is a liberating feeling, so take advantage of their inability to fold good hands. Have fun at the tables!

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