Bluffs And Online Poker

George | September 19, 2008

How do you read another players actions while playing online poker? Often, many players make the mistake of misreading opponents on the Internet because of the lack of physical interaction. When you’re staring at an icon on a screen, it’s easy to see why. However, there are ways to not only read your opponents but also develop your own table image when playing online poker. First, let’s take a look at what table image means and how to capitalize on it.

Loose, maniac, or rock?

Some of the easier reads are made easier when a player sits down at an online poker room and proceeds to play every single hand to the river and quickly lose a large amount of cash. Some reads are more subtle and take time to fully compute. Let’s take a look at the following example:

Johnny has been playing 2/4 NL Hold’em at Titan Poker on the same table for an hour. He’s watched a player named Xmode play for the same hours time and take forever on every call, raise, or fold. He doesn’t type anything into the chat box and sometimes, even times out and has his hand folded. Wow, what a terrible player right? Maybe, maybe not. Xmode may have a slow Internet connection, or he may be trying to read a starting hand value chart as he plays for the first time. Of course, he could just be a 75-year-old Grandfather who’s as solid as a rock and only plays the nuts.

So how do you figure out whether Xmode is a donkey, a rock, or just a geriatric Pappy who’s playing on his Grandson’s account? While there’s no sure-fire way to know for sure, you can do a little digging to find out. First of all, some sites display the connection strength of players so that’s the first thing to check. If it’s low, it’s likely the connection that’s causing his slow play.

You can try to start a conversation with him in the chat box. Don’t be nasty and tell him how bad his play is or how slow he is. He may just agree with you and leave! Take a look at his city (if the poker room shows this information) and ask him about the weather. It doesn’t matter what topic you choose just start a conversation. He may or may not answer but if he does, you can usually be assured that his connection is fine.

You can also pull up the hand history (you may want to take a five minute break to do this) and look at the hands he’s shown down. This information is self-explanatory and will help you as you continue to play with him. If you’re playing a tournament go to a site such as SharkScope and enter his player name. If he’s a long-term loser with a negative ROI, you have yourself a prime target there.

Conversely, a player that sits and makes instant decisions but rarely plays a hand is almost always a rock. Stay away from them unless you have a really big hand. If a player has only played 6 hands in a session and plays to river every time, again you’re likely against a solid player who rarely bluffs or shows down the second best hand. Steer clear if you can.

So what about your table image? Simple, take this information that you’ve just read and reverse it. Regardless of your connection speed, fake it and tell the viewers in the chat window that you’re having issues. Make quick calls and raises if you’re on a bluff, or perhaps only when you’re holding the nuts. Switch gears often and make the subtle changes to your game to send whatever message you choose. As you perfect this skill, you can truly change your table image from table to table as you continue to play online poker.