• Tips from Valerie

    Who’s That Girl?

    Knowing a Few Facts About Your Tablemates Leads to Winning Poker

    By Valerie Ross

    Sitting around the poker table, it never ceases to amaze me how diverse the playing field is. I have played with doctors, lawyers, students, athletes, real estate agents, accountants, teachers – the list goes on and on. All in all I have met some very interesting people and even made a few new friends.

    It has been said that poker players can be divided up by their poker personality. This statement holds a fair amount of validity. You can learn so much from observing the mannerisms and verbiage of your neighbors. I am still learning so much about poker, luckily “people watching” has always been one of my most enjoyable pasttimes.

    As I sit and observe the players, I am constantly wondering what each of them does for a living, and what their home life is like. Call me creepy or nosy, but you can tell a lot about a person just by asking about what they do at their job, and what their relationship status is. Are they happily married? Do they have kids? Are they in a position of authority? Do they work in sales? Is their job technical?

    Knowing little facts about your opponents could help you discover their poker personality. I believe that people play poker much the way they live their life. Do they save a little and spend a lot? Are they willing to risk it all? Do they care about their personal appearance?  Do they lie for a living? How comfortable are they with it?

    Knowing simple little facts about their personal or professional life will give you some insight as to what type of person they are. Watching people and analyzing their actions, mannerisms, and the way they talk can also help you to understand them better. Understanding them will help you in your decision-making process when you are engaged in a hand with them.

    Game of People…

    I always say: Poker is not just a game of cards, but rather a game of people where cards are involved. You need to understand the players to understand how they play the game. This is tough to do when each person at the table may be a total stranger, so making small talk may be in your best interest. Of course, you can sit and watch a few rounds and keep track of how many times people are in a hand, how they bet, what they show down…but striking up a little conversation could give you an edge. It can also be quite stimulating and entertaining. From my personal experience, I have noticed that most people generally like to make small talk, and the men are especially nice.

    It has been established that there are a few basic types of poker players: Tight-Passive, Loose-Passive, Loose-Aggressive, Loose-Aggressive/Passive and Tight-Aggressive. I think it is very important to recognize these traits, and learn to distinguish what type of player you are up against.

    The accompanying basic chart divides poker players up by their playing style.

    Personality Type How to Recognize Them
    Tight-Passive Doesn’t play many pots and will often just call preflop.

    Will often fold to scare cards (such as an ace).

    Plays with a fear of losing.

    Will only stay in a pot if has a strong hand.

    Loose-Passive Limps into lots of pots.

    Will call a large raise just to see a flop.

    Will call most bets when he hits any type of hand.

    Tight-Aggressive (TAG) Doesn’t play many pots, but will play aggressively.
    Loose-Aggressive (LAG) Tends to raise or reraise a wide variety of hands preflop.

    Will often bet on most flops.

    Will bluff a higher percentage of the time.

    Loose-Aggressive/Passive This type of player will raise a lot of hands preflop.

    He will often give up on the flop or turn.

    Typically these are former TAGs or tight-passives trying to experiment with looser play, but are not comfortable committing to their aggression.

    I would agree that there is a basic breakdown of poker player types, but in addition to having a playing style, there is also a personality that is attached to gaming style. This is what makes poker entertaining.

    For example, there is the annoying person at the table who won’t shut up. He is seriously talking every second, and you want to karate chop him in the voice box but for the sake of poker etiquette, you refrain from doing so.

    Then there is the thinker. This guy takes two minutes to decide whether or not to play his hand, and if he does play the hand he takes five minutes to decide what he is going to do with it. And then another five minutes as each card flops. As if we all want to plan our funeral while we sit and wait.

    Let’s not forget about “Jack Hass”…he ALWAYS “has/had the winning hand” (every time), but folded. What is with that guy, anyway? We know that he may have folded the winning hand here and there, but not every time.

    You meet a wide array of people with so many different characteristics, yet we all have poker in common. What is it about poker that attracts such a variety of individuals? I think it is safe to assume that this psychologically thrilling game brings out the best and the worst in us at different times, and it constantly challenges us to exercise our virtues.

    In addition to winning money and being entertained, poker is a great place to people watch and observe.

    In closing:

    “Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking”

    – Johann Van Goethe


    Thank you all for your continued support. I look forward to hearing from you all. If you have any comments, questions, or requests please feel free to email me at tsunamifromsingapore@hotmail.com or Valerie Ross (White) at Facebook.com.

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