You probably heard about changing gears when playing poker. But what does "changing gears" exactly mean and why is it so important to do it to be successful at online poker?
Why Changing Gears?
Phil Ivey among others is known for his redoutable ability to change gears. Profitable poker players know that changing their style of play is crucial. It is not always necessary though. It all depends on how skillful and observant your opponents are.
For example if you multi-table, some of your opponents may play only one table at once and hence being more attentive than you to the game dynamics, giving them an edge. Or they could use a poker tracker and have spent time to learn how you play in order to find your leaks or idiosyncrasies. This can be dangerous if they know how you play at the poker showdown.
So what is a exactly?
Varying your playing style does not mean to become super aggressive for no apparent reason while you played tight throughout a game. It is first a matter of knowing when to play differently. For instance if you check raised a few times already whenever you had a good hand, then the time might be ripe for a change a gears and a big opening bet the next time you have a strong hand.
When to Change Gears in Poker
In live poker, it is very important to vary your style of play as the players all play only one table at a time and can pay attention to your style of play and act knowingly. Your opponents will remember how you played certain specific hands and will adapt their strategy accordingly. It is therefore crucial to change gears and not to play in a predictable way.
A very special time to change gear in live and online tournaments is near the bubble. It is at this stage of the tournament that most players tighten up their game to make sure that get paid up. This provides a good advantage to the players who are willing to change gears and to take some risk, possibly with a bluff as well.
At this stage of a tournament the blinds and antes are always high, and this is an opportunity to grab a significant amount of chips. If you played tight-aggressive earlier, your opponents will automatically put you on a strong hand if you bet, so this is the time to play looser and to make a few moves.
Another time to change gear is when the dynamics of the table change, if players join and leave the table or if some of your opponents change gear themselves. Vary your style if you notice such a change. If you find that a table is overly tight, it is the time to play looser and vice versa. When a new player joins the table, change gears in order to paint a misleading table image for him.
Changing gear summary
It is clear that changing gear in poker is both an advanced and a fundamental concept in poker. But if you play at the low or mid stakes tables without being ultra active, it is not really necessary to use this tactic and to change gears. Because players change often at these tables and most of them are not observant anyway.
Used appropriately though, changing your style of play will help you win big pots by deception. By changing gears a few times throughout an entire gaming session, you can learn how to reach a higher win ratio at the showdown with a little practice.
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