A huge part of poker is spotting weakness at the table and then exploiting that weakness. By being able to do this, you will set yourself up for a profitable session each time you play. This is because every time you sense weakness from one of your opponents, it is likely you can take advantage of this whether you have a hand or not and take down some sizeable pots.
To be a successful cash game poker player, you have to have the right amount of aggression and put yourself in the right positions to be the aggressor. Although, you have to limit your aggression to ensure your opponents do not see you as a loose idiot who they can take advantage of. Do this by mixing up your play to ensure they do not spot weakness in your game.
Right, so how can you spot when a player is weak? There are some fairly obvious plays which show weakness and more complex plays which will involve better skilled players.
An obvious sign that a player is weak is when they do not intend to show any strength. This can be shown from a number of scenarios. The first sign is when a player just calls an unraised pot pre-flop. Weakness is increased the later the position they are in because they know a call with a weak hand becomes more sensible when they are in late positions. The best way to deal with this is raising the pot pre-flop and showing strength on the flop. More times then not this strategy will work and you will take down the pot. This is only recommended if you are in a later position then the opponent you have deemed to have made a weak play.
A player may also be weak if he raises pre-flop from a late position. Most poker players know the chance of them taking the pot down from a late position with a raise is fairly high, so it is likely late raisers are holding a weak hand. Of course it is risky to re-raise them without a hand, but you can gain a significant amount of information on them if they fold to your re-raise.
Some players may disguise their weakness by playing incredibly strong. An example of this is the check-raise bluff. Check-raising is a powerful play in poker and normally indicates a strong hand. Although some players may use this play to bluff, by indicating they have a strong hand when really they are weak. It is difficult to recognize when a player will be check-raising to bluff, but if you have enough information on the player to consider he may be doing just this, it may be worthwhile to come over the top or at least call.
Another play a weak player might use is raising when not in position. This would normally be on the flop following a raised pre-flop. This normally indicates a bluff or your opponent is trying to protect a strong hand which may be at danger if there are flush or straight draws available. It does generally depend on the player you are facing and the appearance of the flop. If you fire out a large bet when the turn comes another scary card for your opponent, you will likely be taking down the pot.
So there are some key ways in which you can spot weakness from your opponent, and then how to exploit it. The plays above will not work in every instance but over time, they will make more money then they will lose.
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