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Your Poker Table Image
Table image is one aspect of poker and online poker that can only be understood with experience. This is a perfect example demonstrating how poker is based on psychology, mental pictures inferred from incomplete information, and ultimately deception for those who know how to abuse this concept.
In a nutshell, your table image in poker represents what other people at the table think about the way you play poker. If you play online poker at a high traffic room such as Full Tilt Poker, a large proportion of the players at your table will not know you from before.
The only information that they have about you is the hands that they have seen you play so far in the current session. From a small sample of hands, they need to infer your playing style.
The concept of table image applies to all form of poker, ring games, tournaments, full ring, 6-max, holdem, omaha, etc. Indeed it applies to many types of games and even to chess. Many great masters have won big titles by changing their style, such as Kasparov when he defeated Karpov for the world title.
Use your Poker Table Image
For illustration of the table image concept in poker, let us say that you have been playing at one online table for about one hour with a few unknowns for a total of fifty hands. The question is how much difference could there be between the way you played these fifty hands, and your real playing style. The simple answer is: it depends.
Usually 50 hands will suffice to provide a pretty good picture of how a player plays poker. Maniacs can be spotted very rapidly as they dictate most of the action at a table. Conversely a rock will not attract attention, but will be labeled as such if you use a head-up display. The key is to use a poker HUD that will profile all players quickly.
If you are new to online poker, you need to know that regular players will very quickly detect you as a novice player because the HUD does not lie. From the beginning of your online poker career, you should focus on having correct VPIP/PFR/AG in order not to look like a fish and attract the floating sharks.
The more interesting aspect of poker table image is that sometimes you can use it to your advantage, and some renowned players like Mike Caro are famous for their table image manipulation. In the case of this 50 hands example, imagine that you normally play a quite standard style somewhere between LAG & TAG, and that you were mostly dealt bad cards, hence you have folded a lot in the current session.
For players who do not know you, you will appear like a very cautious rock only playing premium hands. One way to use your current table image given this situation is to start making some aggressive moves with hands that you would normally fold. You should steal the blinds more frequently. You should attempt a few pre-flop raises or 3-bets in position if the players in front of you do not seem too dangerous.
Change your Poker Table Image by mixing your game
The result of having developed a very tight image "by chance" is that you should now expect a lot of respect from your observant opponents who consider you like a solid player even though they do not really know how you play poker. Change gear now and start to increase your VPIP/PFR. If you become loose enough, your image will deteriorate to the point where some of your opponents will start doubting your bets.
This is part of what is called mixing your game. At this stage you want to start building the image of a loose or very loose player. You may attempt some cheap bluffs, and if you get finally caught, this is not only bad news.
Now your image is the one of a loose fish with no credibility. Your image has totally changed and most players will have forgotten that they initially though that you were a rock. Anyway after one hour of online poker, half the players will have changed and will have only seen your more recent image.
You are now waiting for premium cards or for flopping a very strong hand. This is when your new table image will pay off. Bet aggressively and get called or raised by unbelievers. This is how you win the big pots, by making people call your huge hands.
Let us say that this session lasted 100 hands, the first 50 you played like a rock, the last 50 very LAG. The average of these 100 hands will appear like an average TAG-LAG style with nothing noteworthy. But what the HUD cannot tell (not yet) is that you mixed your game a lot and projected the wrong image in order to mislead your generously donating opponents.
Using your table image at the poker table depends on how observant your opponents are, but note that all players are observant to some extent. Also note that image has some "latency".
Say, if you are perceived as a rock and start bluffing like a psycho maniac just escaped from the asylum. It will take a few hands for your opponents to adjust. Initially they will tend to always fold to your bets. Quickly you will tend to always getting called. Master the latency and you have mastered the mixing style strategy.
Table image is one of the weapons in the arsenal of great players. Use it for yourself and know when your opponents are using it against you by changing gear and trying to lull you and your chips.
Playing video poker online can be great fun, and can be experienced from wherever in the world you are. For example, there are many online poker UK websites which offer a great range of online poker games, complete with their own signup offers and bonuses, and at some websites you can even play video poker slots, a twist on playing slot machines.