Table Image - What is Table Image?
If you understand your table image, you will see more opportunities to win pots without a showdown. Winning pots without a showdown will allow you to either progress through a poker tournament or turn an unprofitable cash game session into a profitable one. These two things in poker are important for short term and long term results. In order to win poker tournaments you have to win tons of pots without showing down your hand on the river. If you can master your image at the table, you will have ease in exploiting your opponents hand ranges and plays they make.
The first thing you should do when you sit down at a table is figure out who is up money, who is down money, and who is new to the table. If you understand these few things you can build up a table image from that which will in return become profitable. If you see a player who is on tilt, you can play big pots against them by trapping them. If you see a player who is a rock and doesn’t seem to give anything away, or play many hands, you can avoid them. The main thing though is to understand how other players at the table view you. If you are young looking, maybe under 24-25 years old, you should figure out that every old man at the table will always assume you are bluffing. When they assume that you are bluffing every time, this means that you can value bet and structure your bets differently. When you look to change your betting structure, if you are playing a 5/10 NL game with a $1,000 buy-in, you can change opening to $30 pre-flop, to opening to $40 with hands like aces. If you know you are going to get called a big percentage of the time you can add more to your bets. The reason to add more to your bets is because you want to get the maximum amount you can in every hand. The little bit extra in each pot adds up, and you will see a $500 profit turn into a $1,000 profit just because of small changes in how much you bet. The amount you bet is just as important as the person you are betting against. The players you play against will not understand sometimes why you are betting so much, or betting so little, but the one thing to keep consistent is how they view your play as a whole.
Early on during a session it is important to not play to loose or aggressive, and also you don’t want to give any information away. Most players will categorize you after 20-25 minutes of playing live poker, and for online poker it may only be 2-4 minutes. Playing too loose right away will give you a table image that you are a bad player. This could work to your advantage later on during a session, but the best thing to do is to fold a couple of hands to start off, and then go from there. If you come in to a new table and instantly 3 bet pre-flop and put a bunch of money into every hand, you will not get respect for your good hands to bluff with down the road. Winning pots without a showdown during the middle of poker session is a big part of swinging a break even session into a winning session. You can play passive for a while, but you also want to remain aggressive when playing pots in position.
If you are categorizing players, some basic rules of playing live poker are that kids under 25 years old are always bluffing when firing 3 bullets at a pot. If you see a younger Asian player they might as well shove all of their chips in with a flush draw because eventually this will happen. If you see a middle aged man 26-35 years old they most likely play tight and passive, but may give the illusion of aggression. If you see an old guy at the table they will always play relatively tight and only stick it in with big pocket pairs, no matter what the texture of the board. Women are the hard players to figure out. If you see an older woman at the table often times they play super aggressive or very passive. It is complete and polar opposites. As for younger women, most of them will talk your ear off then not be able to fold top pair. If you fall in to one of these categories you should understand how other players view you and adjust from there. If you do adjust, you could turn unprofitable sessions into highly profitable sessions.