Once you get into the habit of paying attention to your image, you must constantly monitor how your opponents react to different playing styles.
When faced with aggression, do they slow down and wait for a hand, trying to trap, or do they play back at you?
When you're playing tight do they try and run you over? Do they get out of your way when you're betting?
Whichever style you're playing, if you know how your opponents will react you can exploit them. If you're playing loose-aggressive (LAG), which is becoming the standard style in online poker, you especially need to pay attention to your table image.
This strategy involves raising and re-raising pre-flop with a wide range of hands. Such aggressive play often leads to your opponents becoming frustrated. When they get frustrated, they're going to make mistakes.
Play Loose, Get Paid
This is the payoff for the LAG strategy. When you're seen as the maniac at the table, players will start calling you down with worse hands because they know you're raising all the time.
Some players will start re-raising you with less-than-optimal holdings. But you have to be aware of how you're being perceived at the table.
If it's your first hand at the table, you hold K-Q on a king-high board and you're check-raised, you should probably fold.
However, if you're involved in a pot with a player whom you've been pounding with aggression and he's been showing his frustration, you may as well start counting your money now because this guy will stack off much lighter than normal.
A tight style works great as well. Once you're perceived to be a tight player you're going to get a lot of respect.
Your continuation bets will be folded to much more frequently and your opponents are much less likely to play back at you when you're in a hand.
You can use this to your advantage! If you've cultivated a tight solid image you can steal pots because you're going to be given credit for a hand the majority of the time.
You Have to Change Gears in Poker
Switching gears is extremely important. The flow of the table is always changing and you should be able to change with it. If you can vary your play enough, you're going to be a very difficult player to play against.
You should be able to move from playing ultra-aggressive to ultra-tight when the situation dictates. If you're going to be playing the LAG strategy, you have to be able to put the brakes on.
If your table image becomes too entrenched, though, you'll lose your edge. If you're getting played back at every time you raise then it's best to lie back and play a more ABC-style TAG game.
If other players don't notice you've switched gears, they're still going to be willing to stack off versus you.
If you've been playing tight for a significant period and you start taking advantage of that tight image by stealing pot after pot, eventually they're going to reclassify you as a loose-aggressive player.
At that point they'll start to play you differently.
Switch Back and Forth as Your Image Dictates
The trick to playing successful poker is to seamlessly integrate these styles (as well as others) into your game and be able to switch back and forth as your opponents' perception of your image dictates.
If your opponents are unsure of how you are playing, they're going to make mistakes. Those mistakes will translate into dollars in your account - just ask Jesus or the Great Dane.
Mark, I just finished reading the book. I’ll have a review of it on the site this week (today or tomorrow most likely).
I think the table image section of the book is a must read for serious live players. The rest of the book… well you can see the review.
Has anyone read Caro’s new book? I heard it has a lot of good info on table image as well. Was hoping someone could let me know if it’s worth picking up? I already have a stack of books I need to read as it stands!