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Adapting to Changing Table Dynamics

5 Strategies for Adapting to Changing Table Dynamics

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Poker is a dynamic game where adapting to changing table dynamics can make the difference between winning and losing. In this article, I will discuss five key strategies to help you stay ahead as the game evolves around you. By mastering these techniques, you’ll be able to adjust your play effectively, responding to shifts in opponents’ behavior and game flow.

After Every Pot, Ask Yourself What Has Changed

I have this routine I use when I play live poker. I physically turn myself to face the action around the table. At the very least, I try to keep eyes on the action.

I miss details constantly when I do this, because it’s impossible to keep perfect focus for hours at a time. However, it gives me a chance to see how the table is developing. Buried in my phone, I will miss key details.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a younger player completely miss that a player to their left is now shortstacked. They’re on their phone, and then they get dealt another hand. They raise with some turd, and then they have to call the all-in from the shortstacked player to their left. They show everyone the awful hand they raised with, and their image is ruined for the rest of the day.

If they had simply tried to keep their eyes on the action for a small amount of time, they would have seen the player to their left was now short. That would have impacted their opening ranges. Adapting to changing table dynamics would have saved their chips and their image.

After every pot, ask yourself what has changed at the table. If you can’t say what’s changed because you missed the last hand, then you have to evaluate yourself. Were you watching the game on TV? Or were you on your phone? Were you talking to your buddy at the other table?

Who Has A Big Stack Now? What Are They Doing With It?

When someone at the table gets a big stack, pay attention to how they play immediately afterward. If they seem amped up and they can’t fold a hand, then you’ll need to be careful about what you open with them to your left.

If they look calm and happy about folding for a few orbits, then you’ve found someone who worries about running a stack into the ground. Many players believe if they play slow, they’ll have a big stack for the rest of the session or tournament. They think they can glide in with conservative play. Versus them, you can still open wider. You’ll just need to be more disciplined when they do get involved.

Who Is Tilted Now? What Does That Mean?

If you see a player lose a huge pot and look physically shaken by it, you need to take that into account. Don’t get involved with them with nothing. You want to watch them for a few hands. Are they continually shaking their head? Maybe they are furiously texting someone. Are they throwing their hands in with disgust? Adapting to changing table dynamics means paying attention to their reactions and responding accordingly.

One common way people tilt when they’re in this headspace is they’ll keep betting furiously when they miss their draw. If you play a pot with them and multiple draws miss, don’t be shocked if they get infuriated and shove with a missed draw. They were hoping they could hit a hand and get back the chips they feel they rightly deserved. When another draw misses, they can’t stand the injustice.

Adapting to Changing Table Dynamics: Who Is Shortstacked Now?

We reviewed this briefly already, but always pay attention to where the short stacks are at the table. If there’s a bunch to your left, be cautious about what you open. Those players are ready to move all-in. You don’t want to call their shoves. If a couple of shortstacks to your left bust, or if one busts and the other doubles up, then you can open a little wider again.

You don’t want to pick up these details an orbit late like many players do. You want to execute the second you see an opening.

Who Just Moved To The Table? How Do They Play?

If a big stack moves to your table, take your time and watch what they do in the first orbits. In tournament poker, see if they open whatever the hell they feel like in the first hand. If you see them open a weak hand into a number of short stacks, then you know this is a recreational player who doesn’t pay attention to stack dynamics.

However, if on the first hands you see them studying the whole table before they do anything, that is more likely to be a strategically aware player. You will want to take them more seriously.

If they line their chips neatly and look content with folding for a couple of orbits, it’s likely they got a couple of coolers to go their way in the early levels. You don’t have to watch your opening ranges around them.

If they play five of the first ten pots, you know you have an action player. You need to be careful about what you enter the pot with. You need to pay special attention to this player because, at some point, you will be playing a large pot with them. Recognizing that a new player means that your table has changed and reacting to changing table dynamics here can be the difference between success and failure at the table.

Adapting to Changing Table Dynamics – Conclusion:

Adapting to changing table dynamics is essential for maintaining an edge in poker. By implementing these five strategies, you’ll enhance your ability to read the game and make timely adjustments, keeping you competitive in any situation. Remember, flexibility and awareness are your greatest allies at the poker table, helping you turn challenges into opportunities for success.

Want to read more from APT Head Pro Alex Fitzgerald? Try his article about the 11 Tips for Handling Bad Beats and Variance

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Alex Fitzgerald

Master Poker Coach | Low-to-mid-stakes | WPT & EPT final tablist | $3.5M cashes | Best Selling Author

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