Using Information in Poker

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Importance of Information in Poker

It's not an overstatement when we say that information is power in any poker game. Poker is a game of decision after decision and having to make all these decisions, you want to have as much information as possible. In the context of any game, it's vitally important to know what information is at hand and how to use it to your advantage. The more information that you have, the easier your decisions become. Similarly your opponents will be looking to learn as much about you as possible so that they can better predict what you are going to do and whether you are bluffing or not, when you do it.

Online poker rooms have the facility to take player notes and experienced players will always take notes on their opponents. It might be that they recognize patterns in their play or spot certain weaknesses that they feel they can exploit. Either way, it all comes down to information. In live games, you will usually see players with sunglasses and caps, trying to conceal as much of their face as possible. The reason for this isn't just because it's cool to do so, although some of them do look pretty good, but they are trying to stop their opponents getting a read on their plays. There are a number of reasons that information is so important.

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Tells can really be anything and give away information about your hand or simply whether you are misrepresenting your hand. It is much easier in live play than online, the reason many players look to conceal as much of their face as possible when playing. It might be that when a player is bluffing, they play with their chips more, or might be the way they put their chips in the pot when they have a big hand. Professionals pick up on these tells pretty quick and use this against you. There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent against this. Firstly, do everything in the same fashion every hand. Whether you hold a monster or a weak hand, take the same amount of time to evaluate before playing, put the chips in the pot the same way each time and don't change anything about your posture, table talk or anything else. A good method to see if you have any bad habits that could be exploited it to tape yourself playing and watch it back - this will often highlight anything that you might be doing without even thinking.

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Position at the table is very important and is all to do with the amount of information that the player under the gun (first to act - immediately after blinds) has compared to the player in Cut Off (last to act). As the player who is last to act gets to see what the rest of the table does before acting, he has far more information at hand to decide what he is going to do with his hand. Additionally, hands gain in strength the less players there are behind you. For instance A-10 is a much stronger hand in Cut Off than it is in early position. This is because when faced with a raise and re-raise, it is likely behind. In early position you wouldn't know whether you will get a raise and subsequent re-raise as you are first to act. The players in late position will get to see the whole table act and will let it go without losing any of his stack.

For more information on this please read our guide on table position.

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I touched earlier on the use of player notes. This is certainly one method to keep track of your past opponents although some players keep an excel spreadsheet or a book on players making reference to their strengths and weaknesses. This is all information that can be very useful in helping you figure out someone's game. The truth is that when you play a lot of poker, you will not remember one player from the next so it makes sense to keep a track as you go along. It might be that you notice that the player will always bet the river when you check on the turn. Keep a note of this type of information as you can use this against him next time you meet.

To sum up, if you know something about your opponent and he knows nothing about you, you have an advantage over him. The more of an advantage you have, the more likely you are to come out on top.

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