Mix Up Your Play

Daniel Negreanu

We all know that becoming a predictable poker player in a cash game can spell death for your bankroll. The best way to play a cash game is to mix up the way you play. Sure, there are certain images you can choose to use, but you should always diversify your game against good players.

The best way to beat good players is to find out their tendencies. If you adjust your play accordingly you should come out a winner. When mixing up your play, you must play the player. I will reveal exactly what this common saying implies.

Playing the Player

I currently play online poker at Pacific Poker, a very juicy cardroom. Although I have worked my bankroll up from the lower limits, I have found that as you move up, the competition becomes increasingly tougher to beat. Currently, I am playing the highest No-Limit game at the site ($3/$6), but I have also played their highest Limit game ($75/$150). From my experience, I have found that it is important to mix up your play against these good players or they will read you like a book. I lost quite a bit of my bankroll learning this lesson.

In contrast to the more experienced players, the players at the lower limits are willing to call just about anything. Most are playing poker for the excitement with the hope, of course, of winning money. For the most part, the way to beat these games is to play your cards. Although I will occasionally bluff when I smell weakness, I generally stick to the basics.

Most importantly, always know the players you are up against. Even though this article is more geared toward playing against experienced players, it should benefit you in the lower limits as well. On occasion you will get a read on an opponent at a lower level and play accordingly. In short, poker is not always about your cards.

Game Choice

I prefer to mix up my play at the higher limits as I feel it offers the most profit. I strongly advise players to stick to the basics at the lower limits with the exception of supertight games where you know you are up against good players. In this case, you can mix it up by bluffing a little, emphasis on "a little," as most of these players are still way too horrible to bluff. You will run across a ton of calling stations which become harder to find as you increase limits.

Have a Plan

When you do decide to mix up your play, focus on whose chips you wish to take. I have often come across a really loose player and said to myself, "I am going to double up off of this clown." I end up doing exactly that most of the time and I advise you to try it. Watch your opponent's every move and focus on exactly how he bets every hand so that you can get to know this player inside and out. Before deciding to enter a pot with this type of player, be certain that the money you put in will come back to you.

Another article that may be of interest to you is entitled "Playing the Players," which discusses dominating players whom you commonly play. For years, I have watched a friend play and I know his style inside and out, enabling me to dominate him every time I play him heads-up. Then, an epiphany emerged: "If I knew any other player this well, I could probably take his or her life savings."

Read the article "Playing the Players" to learn how to dominate those players you frequently encounter.

See you at the tables.

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