Casing Out Your Opponents' Weaknesses

Perhaps the most important lesson in looking to understand how to exploit the play of opponents is the fact that any style or strategy is exploitable as long as we are aware of what they are doing and what the correct response to this particular strategy is.

While some strategies are certainly better than others, what you need to understand is that any strategy, and I do mean any, can be taken advantage of. By the same token, any strategy of our opponents can end up exploiting us, if we play in a manner that allows it to prevail.

So before I get into looking for particular weaknesses, I don’t want you thinking that exploiting opponents only involves looking for certain things, and when we don’t see what we are looking for, we cannot take advantage of their play. If you truly want to become a good player, you will have to learn to work with what you have, and still beat people.

It’s Really About Reacting, Not Acting

One of the common misconceptions among newer and less skilled players, and even among some pretty skilled ones, is to see the game of poker as something we do to them, in other words, acting upon opponents and taking advantage of them that way.

So with this in mind we seek to come up with some manners of playing, for instance playing pretty aggressively, and pay little or no heed how our opponents are reacting or may be expected to react to our chosen style of play.

These strategies will only work to the extent that our opponents play along with them. So if betting a lot is how we choose to play, if our opponents end up folding too much, then the strategy ends up working. If they do not, then the strategy not only will not work but it may end up backfiring on us, especially if we do not react to their counter play, and a lot of players do not do this properly.

If we are going to be playing against one another, instead of playing a certain way against you, I want to know and learn how you play, and then decide how to best approach you and take advantage of you.

This may sound pretty advanced and you may be thinking that you haven’t learned the game enough to be doing too much thinking about all of this yet, but it’s never too soon to learn to play this game properly. And to play it properly, this always involves tailoring your play to your opponent as best you can.

Some Of The Big Errors That We See

One of the first things I look for when casing out an opponent is his or her tendency to fold too much. I not only want to look for the fact that they are folding too often, I also want and need to know when exactly they do this. For instance, do they check fold the flop too much? Do they fold to a second barrel too often? Do they draw a lot and give up too often to a river bet when a likely blank hits?

Whenever we see too much folding, it’s easy to figure out what to do, and that’s to bet and raise more. We can make an instant profit doing this, so we don’t have to think too much here.

Sometimes players don’t fold enough, and either will call along too loosely, or will bet out too often. In these cases, our task is to find out when and where they do this, and then look to get involved with them with likely better hands then they are playing here. We can get a good idea of their general hand strength from the amount of times they are playing, and then look to be a little more selective with what we play.

It’s also not uncommon to see players, regardless of the style they are playing, to give in too much to pressure. So in these cases we will look to pressure them more with the idea of having them wimp out enough to give us a guaranteed profit here.

On the other side of things, some players will stubbornly stick to their guns and refuse to be pushed around, and will go to the felt lighter than most. So with these players we will only get involved with big pots when we have the guns to back it up, where they often will not.

Predictability Is What We’re Really After Here

These are just a few examples of some of the things opponents can do which we can easily take advantage of, and the list is a rather long one in fact. There is one thing common to all the attempts we will be making to case out our opponents, and that’s the element of predictability.

We need to seek to predict their play, and to the extent that we are able to do this successfully, we will have the ammo we need to fire the right kind of shots against them.

So look to discover whatever patterns you can in the play of your opponents and you will then be able to take that information and use it against them.