The coolest thing about those 3D glasses we used to get out of cereal boxes as kids was that the 3D image on the back of the box always led us to see something that we had never seen before.
How does this relate to poker?
Well, poker isn’t the one-dimensional game they played in old saloons out West anymore. You don’t sit around waiting for the stone cold nuts before making a move and then hide behind your cowboy hat until your opponents fold or pay you off. Texas Dolly is the only one who looks cool in a cowboy hat these days, and trust me, he doesn’t sit around waiting for the nuts.
Poker is a multidimensional game. There are sophisticated plays and thought processes you go through before acting and counteracting your opponents’ moves. That said, I’d like to relate this to a common question about poker that I get asked almost every day: How did I learn to read players so well?
Let me start off by saying that you can read your opponents better than you think you can. By thinking in terms of different poker dimensions, one common theme in many beginning and intermediate players is that they have patterns that they don’t even know they have. Many players cannot help but be one-dimensional.
First, let’s look at the common calling station. There’s one at every table. He is the guy who’s calling until the river card hits the 10 and who’s sucking out the K-Q you were betting all the way through when the board comes K-J-6 and he’s holding the J-10 offsuit. We usually want to berate these players, but try and think positively about how this guy can add to your bankroll by adjusting your play when you’re in a hand against him.
The flop comes K-J-6 with two clubs, and you’re holding a 9-7 of clubs in your hand. Now, his passive play works to your advantage, because you can comfortably check your draw and let them give you those free cards. Best of all, when the 10 of clubs hits the river, you can value bet and almost guarantee a call, since that’s what your opponent likes to do best!
By tapping into your common multidimensional play and adjusting your play to the tendencies of your opponents, you can often read your table like a book. And it’s the same when it comes to the levels I play, just more dimensions. All players have small leaks, and poker is all about exploiting those leaks whenever possible.
Let’s look at another one-dimensional type of player:
The overly aggressive opponent. Sure, this player is a terror to have at your table on the bubble of a tournament, raising every hand and reraising people because he knows they are trying to cash. This player is not the aggressive player that is controlling the table. This player takes aggression overboard, and he doesn’t know how to control it and use it properly to his advantage. Just like every other player, this player has exploitable flaws.
This is the player you trap. Check your flopped set of 6s on a rainbow board of 6-9-Q to him, and let him bet the hand for you until the pot is big enough where he is priced in and forced to call a check-raise on the turn and value bet on the river. Another play might be the squeeze play for value. Bet a small amount that warrants a call from a player between you and the overly aggressive player. Then, more than likely, the aggressive player will raise, powered by a false sense of weakness from you. You can then act on the trap by re-raising and now gaining extra money from the middle player. Go heads up with the aggressive player, who was likely raising on the read he thought he had on you.
While you’re sitting and trying to develop your poker superpowers, you can call an exact hand out – remember, practice makes perfect. Using these tips on adding different dimensions to your game on common reading tactics will help you improve your mind reading without even trying.
By exploiting the common patterns of your opponents, you will develop your innate skill of recognizing less visible patterns in your opponents, and that is when you begin to play poker on another level.
Maybe 3D glasses at the poker table will be the next poker fad… Until then, keep the dimensions to yourself, and take home the money.