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The Pain Barrier - Manipulating Your Opponent
Joe Beevers
Feb 9, 2007

Finding the Low Cards in Omaha Hi/Lo
Mike Matusow
Jan 15, 2007

Looking at the Long-Term
Erik Seidel
Jan 6, 2007

Playing Small and Medium Pairs in Seven-Card Stud
Perry Friedman
Dec 29, 2006

Playing Aces in PLO
Andrew Black
Dec 21, 2006

Playing in Australia
Mark Vos
Dec 15, 2006

Playing Mixed Games
Jennifer Harman
Dec 7, 2006

Pot-Size Manipulation
Gavin Smith
Nov 30, 2006

Betting out of Position
Gus Hansen
Nov 20, 2006

How a Pro Thinks Through a Hand
Team Full Tilt
Nov 13, 2006

Cash Equity at the Final Table
Rafe Furst
Nov 6, 2006

Getting Beyond Your Cards
Perry Friedman
Oct 30, 2006

The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Balancing Poker and Life
Clonie Gowen
Oct 16, 2006

Play More Pots
Erick Lindgren
Oct 9, 2006

Heads-Up vs Multi-Way Hands in Omaha Hi/Lo
Andy Bloch
Oct 3, 2006

Playing Big Slick in Deep Stack Tournaments
Paul Wolfe
Sept 25, 2006

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ben Roberts
Sept 18, 2006

Playing Cap Games
Howard Lederer
Sept 11, 2006

From No-Limit to Limit
Richard Brodie
Sept 4, 2006

Check-Raising on Draws
Steve Brecher
August 28, 2006

Betting the River with Marginal Hands
Andy Bloch
August 21, 2006

Learning from Allen Cunningham
Jay Greenspan
August 14, 2006

Acknowledging Mistakes
Team Full Tilt
August 7, 2006

Playing the Main Event
Gus Hansen
July 31, 2006

Managing the Short Stack
Mark Vos
July 24, 2006

Playing Pot-Limit Tournaments
Rafe Furst
July 17, 2006

Red for a Day
Brian Koppelman
July 10, 2006

A Big Stack Mistake at the 2006 WSOP
Phil Gordon
July 3, 2006

Winning Poker - It's About More Than Money
Ben Roberts
June 26, 2006

Seventh Street Decisions in Seven-Stud
Keith Sexton
June 19, 2006

Big Blind Play in Limit Hold 'em
Jennifer Harman
June 12, 2006

Firing the Second Bullet
Greg "FBT" Mueller
June 5, 2006

Fourth Street Decisions in Seven Stud
Keith Sexton
May 29, 2006

Finding Your Inner Maniac
Greg "FBT" Mueller
May 22, 2006

Beware the Min Raise
Phil Gordon
May 15, 2006

Playing Bottom Two Pair
Rafe Furst
May 8, 2006

The Other Danger in Slow Playing
Howard Lederer
May 1, 2006

Why I Prefer Cash Games to Tournaments
Huckleberry Seed
April 24, 2006

Early Tournament Play
David Grey
April 17, 2006

Bad Position, Decent Cards
Howard Lederer
April 3, 2006

Inducing a Bluff
Layne Flack
March 27, 2006

Back to Basics
David Grey
March 20, 2006

Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

Viewer Beware
Howard Lederer
March 6, 2006

When Passive Plays
Chris Ferguson
February 27, 2006

Book Smarts vs. Table Smarts
Erik Seidel
February 20, 2006

Playing with John D'Agostino
Jay Greenspan
February 13, 2006

On Cavemen and Poker Players
Ben Roberts
February 6, 2006

Small-Pot Poker
Gavin Smith
January 30, 2006

Tips From Tunica
Andy Bloch
January 23, 2006

How Big a Bankroll?
Team Full Tilt
January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Omaha-8
Jennifer Harman
January 09, 2006

In Defense of the Call
Gavin Smith
January 02, 2006

Stepping Up, Stepping Down
Kristy Gazes
December 26, 2005

Playing a Big Draw in Limit Hold 'em
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
December 19, 2005

Know Your (Table) Limits
Paul Wolfe
December 12, 2005

Getting Started in Stud-8
Jennifer Harman
December 05, 2005

What's Your Starting Hand Really Worth?
Steve Brecher
November 28, 2005

Big Slick: A Slippery Hand
Rafe Furst
November 21, 2005

Bad Cards or Bad Plays?
Team Full Tilt
November 14, 2005

Strategies for Short-Handed Limit Hold 'em
John D'Agostino
November 7, 2005

Taking on a Short-Handed No-Limit Game
John D'Agostino
October 31, 2005

What I learned at the WSOP
Jay Greenspan
October 24, 2005

Back to the Drawing Board
Perry Friedman
October 17, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green. Or Is It?
Team Full Tilt
October 10, 2005

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric
Phil Gordon
October 3, 2005

Know Your Opponent; Own Your Opponent
Paul Wolfe
September 26, 2005

How Bad are the Beats?
Steve Brecher
September 19, 2005

Third Street in Seven Stud
Perry Friedman
September 12, 2005

Flopping a Monster
Richard Brodie
September 6, 2005

Our Favorite Poker Books
Team Full Tilt
August 30, 2005

Holding On To Your Winnings
Aaron "GambleAB" Bartley
August 22, 2005

No-limit by the Numbers
Andy Bloch
August 15, 2005

Chip Sandwich
Phil Gordon
August 8, 2005

Sizing Up Your Opening Bet
Chris Ferguson
August 1, 2005

So You Wanna Go Pro
Rafe Furst
July 25, 2005

Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players.
Greg Mascio
July 18, 2005

Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon
July 11, 2005

Playing Two or More Tables at Once
Erick Lindgren
July 4, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 2
Chris Ferguson
June 27, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 1
Chris Ferguson
June 20, 2005

Specialize At Your Peril
Howard Lederer
June 13, 2005

Common Mistakes
Phil Gordon
June 6, 2005

Don't Play a Big Pot Unless You Have a Big Hand
John Juanda
May 30, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part II
Erick Lindgren
May 23, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part 1
Erick Lindgren
May 16, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Jennifer Harman
May 9, 2005

Why I Leave My Sunglasses And iPod At Home
Howard Lederer
April 25, 2005

In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

The Script
Phil Gordon
April 4, 2005

Just A Few Things When Playing Razz
Jennifer Harman
March 28, 2005

A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005

Sit N Goes Made Easy
Howard Lederer
March 14, 2005







POKER TIP: 7
Keep Your Toolbox Well Stocked

Chris Ferguson
May 2, 2005

I often get asked about my playing style. Rather than answer the question myself, I'm more interested in what my opponents say. And I've heard it all: "You're too tight." "You're too loose." "You're tight aggressive." "You're too passive."

Actually, I never hear that last one, but I've heard all the others, which makes me believe I must be doing something right. Loose, tight, aggressive - my style is that I'm all of the above, depending upon the circumstances.

One essential element of playing winning poker is forcing your opponents to make difficult decisions. That's why raising is almost always better than calling - because it forces an extra decision on your opponents. To take this a step further - you'll win more money by forcing your opponents to make decisions when they are out of their comfort zones.

Here are some examples:

Your opponent is on your left, playing too tight before the flop. You want to punish him for this. The best way to do that is to raise more often, and be more aggressive. Either you end up stealing a lot of blinds, or he adjusts his play.

If you get the blinds? Great! If he adjusts? Better! It's the best outcome you can hope for. If he starts playing more hands pre-flop, you now have a real edge. Anytime your opponent changes his pre-flop playing style, he's going to run into trouble later in the hand. A guy who usually plays nothing but very strong hands isn't going to know what to do with weaker holdings on the turn and river.

If a tight opponent raises in front of you, wait for a stronger hand to call. By playing tight when you are acting behind your opponent, you avoid losing money to his stronger hands. Again, if your opponent catches on, you're forcing him to play more hands up front, and you can outplay him after the flop.

What about the guy who plays too many hands? If you're acting first, you want better starting hands than normal. Most of the value of a marginal hand comes from the chance that your opponent will fold immediately. If your opponent has never seen suited cards he doesn't like, the value of your marginal hand decreases because it's unlikely he's going to lay his hand down. He may win more pots preflop, but this is more than offset by the extra money you're going to make when you do see a flop with your stronger hands.

If a loose opponent raises you, you can call -- or even raise -- with weaker hands, and raise with hands you'd ordinarily just call with. By taking control of the hand, you can pick up more pots later. Again, you are daring him to change his style. If he doesn't, you're getting the best of it. If he does, he's a fish out of water, prone to making mistakes later in the hand.

It's important to have a lot of tools in your arsenal. First, it's helpful in being able to adjust to your opponents and force them out of their comfort zones. Additionally, it will enable you to take advantage of your own table image when you have already been labeled as a tight or loose player, and to adjust accordingly.

For example, Gus Hansen and Phil Ivey are known as extremely aggressive players. The only way they have been able to survive with that image is by being able to adjust to different opponents and to slow down occasionally, when appropriate. I have seen this happen sometimes just before an opponent starts reacting to their aggression. They are somehow able to sense what is happening, and change their games accordingly. Other times, they won't adjust much, and force their opponents to try and beat them at an unfamiliar game.

To best take advantage of this, pay attention! To everything. All the time. Not just when you're in the hand, but especially when you're not in the hand. Every hand your opponent plays gives you valuable information about how he thinks, and how he's likely to play hands in the future.

If there's an expert at your table, watch how he plays. See what hands he expects to work, think about how he plays them, then try incorporating it yourself. See how he pushes weaker players out of their comfort zone. Paying attention is one of the best ways to learn, and a great way to move up the poker food chain.



Chris Ferguson
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