Image Conscious

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Two conversations with friends over the last week or so have made me reappraise some of the thoughts I had about playing poker online. I’ve always known that online play was a different kettle of fish from in the flesh stuff, but one of the things that I’d always believed carried through was table image and the possibility of doing something now to fool somebody later.

In fact I’ve always made a conscious effort to mix up my styles of play on-line. a) to create confusion over what sort of player I am and b) to keep things interesting in my living room. I’m not talking crazy swings, just the standard opening range/starting bet type stuff.

The first conversation that got me thinking, was on a forum somewhere, where the members were debating (seriously) the merits (or otherwise) of playing ‘randomly’. I won’t pretend to know what they meant by that, I suppose randomising you play makes it hard for opponents to know what you’re doing, but I’m guessing it makes it hard for you to know too.

Maybe these guys have been watching pros play hands like 3-5o and think that it’s pretty random. But, of course, Gus and his mates will tell you that it’s anything but. Anyway, the upshot there is that it’s pretty scary to think that people play that way, and it makes my careful efforts at stylising fairly useless.

The other conversation, I suppose the much more useful one, was specifically about table images online. I was bemoaning some bad beat or other and being generally bemused that, although I’d spent a good hour cultivating the image of a rock who’d think twice about raising with Aces, some idiot had managed to crack my K-K pocket pair with a 6-8s.

It was at this point that my mate pointed out the futility of my efforts.

“Even if they’ve enough sense to be following how people are playing, most people are playing too many tables to pay proper attention anyway”

And there in one blinding flash of inspiration, it came to me. No-one is actually watching me out there. They look at their own cards and decide whether they want to play them. If I’ve got a table image, then it’s not the one that I’ve been trying to work on, it’s the one that Poker Tracker or Shark Scope is telling them that I’ve got.

Applying this new found knowledge will be a difficult thing though. I can make the short term tweaks to my playing style quite easily. Wiping nearly 2 years worth of losses out of an online database is a different matter altogether.

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