Table Image 1: Intro

Grant Hinkle

In No-Limit Texas Hold'em, table image is everything. It can mean the difference between a losing session and a winning one. There are a few rules you must learn before learning how to exploit your table image for maximum profit.

The first rule is that if you plan on showing a loose table image, you must be playing players who will acknowledge it. You cannot go to a low-limit table where players go all-in with anything and expect to make a profit by showing them how loose you are. The best way to beat a low-limit game is by playing the cards. Table image becomes a factor only when you are playing the player rather than the cards.

The second rule about table image counsels against giving too much money away on trash hands. If you plan on playing like a maniac, show this to your opponents. Be careful not to go overboard and start playing stupid as it is very easy to fall into this trap. As a maniac, your goal should be to show down a few cheap pots with trash hands and to raise some pretty crappy hands pre-flop. A lot of times, you will raise trash and hit top pair. Don't get carried away with this and let it go if it must be done.

The third and most important rule is to always play tight on the flop. Even if you are acting like a maniac, do the raising pre-flop. Only call down for a good image and show a stupid hand if the pot is really cheap.

The Three Table Images

The three table images I will discuss have varying degrees. I will outline the basic concepts and requirements for each image. The goal we are trying to accomplish here is letting our opponents make mistakes based on how we are perceived. We are trying to get them to lay down top pair when we are bluffing with a tight table image. Likewise, we are trying to get them to call us when we have the stone cold nuts and are playing like a maniac.

  1. Maniac
  2. Tight
  3. Crazy (Unpredictable)

You can learn to play any of these images and I advise you to master them all. On a daily basis, I might use all three table images if the table demands it. Table image should be chosen based on the current status of a table.

Which Table Image to Choose

Choose your table image based on whether the table is loose or tight.

  1. Tight Table - Tight Image
  2. Loose Table - Loose Image

This may look weird considering most people say play tight on a loose table and loose on a tight table. That is right. But you have to remember, we are talking image here, not the way we play. It doesn't matter what image I choose, I always play tight on the flop no matter what. Even when I am playing the role of a maniac, I will very rarely call down without nuts or a premium hand. I will occasionally show down a bad hand on purpose if it is a cheap pot overall.

The reason we want to show that we are tight on a tight table is because most of the time the players will give up top pair. You will be able to steal the blinds and bluff as much as you want so long as the tight players think you are tight.

The reason we want to show that we are loose on a loose table is because we want our opponents to think we are stupid players as well. Sometimes, on a really loose table, all you need to do is sit there and you will still get action on pocket aces. If they are folding to your premium hands, then make a few stupid calls here and there and raise some trash hands pre-flop so they know you are there to play and not to take their money.

The crazy table image is best when playing against players that you know are capable of reading you. Opponents that pay extreme attention to your every move can only be countered with one table image, the unpredictable and crazy image. These types of players (crazy/unpredictable) are winners over the long run because you will never peg them on a set hand. They know when to give up flops and know when to bet you out of the pot.

Read the three articles that discuss each image in detail. Although cultivating table image is not always a necessity, it is a good element to add to your overall play, and learning about it can only enhance your ability to win in the long run.

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