Texas Holdem : Mixing up your play

There are a number of online and brick and mortar Texas Holdem poker players that just love to play their game. By that I mean that they are going to be who they are no matter what. We have all seen the guy that sits down at the table and starts raising every single hand no matter what he is holding. Better yet how about the guy that pushes his chips in the middle after every flop? Yes, these kinds of poker players actually do exist. They are the kind of poker players that will help you build your chip stack quickly if you learn how to counter their particular poker strategy. The purpose of this article is to show and emphasize why mixing up your play in a poker game will allow you to maximize your profit and build your chip stack.

Recognition
I constantly talk about being able to recognize what your opponents are trying to do to you as early as possible. The reason for this is because the longer it takes for you to figure out what your opponent is doing to you the greater the risk to your chip stack. In most cases you should have the entire table figured out within 30 minutes or so. If you are an experienced player it will take you a shorter time to profile and categorize the players at your table. In either event once you have done so you can begin to think about ways to counter their attacks on your chip stack in order to maximize your own profit.

Premium Hands

As much as we all love to pick up premium hands they can become very difficult to play if you do not learn how to change speeds with them. Part of what makes up a good Texas Holdem poker player is their ability to change speeds or mix up their play with premium or non-premium hands. That means that you are not going to always play your large pocket pairs with a large raise every single time. By playing your premium hands differently you create the perception that perhaps the hand is not as big as your opponent may think. You may raise big with a premium hand on a particular orbit and then make a minimum raise with it the next time in order to disguise the true value of your hand. You may limp with a premium hand in the middle of the tournament and then raise with it later on if that suits your style of play. Premium hands become premium hands when you can consistently earn a profit with them. That means deceiving your opponent and not giving away just how strong you are by mixing up your play.

Position
Position plays a big role in mixing up your play and poker strategy in general. You must be capable of making any and all moves from just about any position at the table when the time is right. That means that you may raise with pocket twos from early position if the situation dictates for you to do so. You may call a raise from late position with the same hand or even fold that hand all together. The bottom line is that you must find a way to use your position to your advantage and that does not mean that you always have to have a premium hand to do so.

Perception

In this case we are talking about not only how the table perceives your own play but how you perceive the table to be playing in general. Is the table loose, tight, aggressive or solid? You need to be capable of understanding how the table is playing in order to garner maximum benefit from mixing up your play. Once you have determined how your table is playing it is up to you to utilize and mix up your play accordingly. Many times you will find yourself involved in hands that you probably could fold but because the table is playing passively you jump in and hit your hand. That comes from understanding the table play and where the spots are to make your moves.

Ultimately, mixing up your play prevents your opponents from putting you on a hand. If you can play the same hand successfully from all three positions including the blinds you are on your way to becoming a very good poker player. Texas Holdem poker is a game of people that happens to be played with cards. Mixing up your play allows you to take advantage of those people even when the cards may not be falling your way. That is the beauty of the game. You can play any hand from anywhere against anyone at your table and still have a chance to win the pot in no limit. You gotta love that!

Curtis Mayfield III

Posted on Thursday, 2nd September 2010 .