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The Value of Unpredictability

📁 articles 🕔08.May 2018
The Value of Unpredictability

We’ve written article after article about the importance of balance in online poker, so it only seems fair that we spend a little time talking about the other side of that coin – how unpredictability can sometimes be the most effective weapon in your arsenal. How so? Well, let’s start with:

Overestimating your opponents

As we described in detail in those previous posts, one of the biggest benefits of maintaining balanced poker play is that it prevents your opponents from getting a good read on you. However, what if your opponents aren’t good enough to read you?

Overestimating the quality of your opponents can actually wind up costing you money. For example, in a particular round the ‘balanced’ play might be to just call even though you’ve got a great hand – just to prevent people from figuring out that you’ve got a hand they should worry about by your raise. If none of your opponents has even been paying attention to your betting/calling patterns, however, all you’re doing is passing up an opportunity to get more money on the table.

Overcomplicating your play

The danger in allowing opponents to start reading you is that they can then start systematically devising a strategy to counter your play and take you for everything you’ve got. That’s certainly an issue to be concerned about the majority of the time, but you should be careful not to overcomplicate your play as a result. There’s no point executing a masterfully subtle play that’s designed to trap your opponents into a particular way of thinking and set yourself up for a future windfall, if the other players at the table didn’t notice a thing.

Ruthlessness

While a balanced approach certainly is the better route to take when playing against online poker players of equal or possibly greater skill, it can be a mistake if you’re playing against less savvy players who you’ve taken the measure of already. In such situations, your first and primary aim should be to exploit the mistakes your opponents will likely make – no matter if that leads to a wilder style of play than you’re used to.

Of course, you should apply your best judgement to the situation and decide for yourself when the path of unpredictability is the best one for the job. You should also be wary about using these tactics against better players, who might start seeing through your play sooner than not. Still, there is value to unpredictability in online poker and, after reading this, we hope you’ll agree!

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