Poker Essays

How to Be Unpredictable In no Limit Texas Holdem

December 2007

In fixed-limit Texas Holdem, you can get away with some level of predictability. You should vary your play in any type of poker to make decisions more difficult for your opponents. However, in fixed-limit games, where your goal is typically to win one or two extra bets when you have the best of it and save one or two when you don't, some predictability is rarely disastrous.

In no-limit online Texas Holdem it is another matter.

Dangers of Predictability in No-Limit Texas Hold'em

Let's say that whenever you raise pre-flop and miss the flop, you check. This is a very straightforward way to play, and not much of a Texas Holdem strategy. If opponents catch on to this, they will bet every time you check the flop and take the pot you built up away. Conversely, if you bet the flop because you hit it, they will escape without paying you off.

Amateurs may feel that the reverse is better, but in fact, it is even worse. If opponents figure out that you bet whenever you raise pre-flop and miss the flop and check when you hit, they will simply raise your flop bet and take the pot away from you that way, or take a free card when you check.

You may feel that opponents will not catch on to what you are doing, but in fact this 'strong means weak, weak means strong' method is a very low level of deception in poker and poker players are trained to watch out for it. In fact, savvy players may pick up on this pattern faster than the straight-forward pattern.

Betting the flop every time you have raised pre-flop is preferable to either of these other two methods, although this is not truly randomizing your play either.

How to Be Unpredictable in No-Limit Texas Hold'em

One way to be unpredictable in Texas Holdem is to base your decisions on how you think a certain player will react. If there's a player who never believes anyone, this may be a player you want to value bet. If you are facing a couple of tight opponents, you have a better chance to bluff. While opponents may pick up on this pattern, they do not necessarily know what your assessment is of other players, so if you make a move based on the fact that you are facing two tight opponents and one loose one, other players may not be aware of it.

Additionally, you may decide in advance how often you will bet/call/fold in a given situation. If you decide that in a certain situation you will raise 80 percent of the time and call 20 percent, you simply need a way to randomize that decision. One way might be to use your watch. For example, if the second hand is between one and 48 seconds you raise and if it is between 49 and 60 seconds you call. If you don't want to use a prop, you can simply keep it in your mind how often you have called or raised and act accordingly. If you do this, it is better to space out your two out of 10. That is, for example, raise the first four times, call the next, raise the next four, then call the next, rather than raise eight times in a row and call the next two. Even though this particular situation won't happen ten times in a row, a savvy opponent may notice that you always call in a certain situation twice in a row. If you just remember to stay away from any particular pattern whenever possible, you should be all right.

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