How to Develop Your Poker Adaptability

Adaptability is one of the most important qualities in poker. Unlike chess, poker depends a lot on your opponents. And making money at poker depends on your ability to play optimally against a variety of opponents and table conditions.

This is where flexibility and adaptability differentiate between the mediocre players and the master pros.

What is adaptability at poker?

Conditions change at the poker table, especially in online tournaments. If you make it deep in the large online tourneys that pay a fortune, they may last over ten hours, sometimes 15. People get tired. The small stacks become large, and the large stacks small. The blinds increase, the antes begin. Players get eliminated or moved to other tables, and are replaced by new ones. At the poker table, the only constant is change.

Adaptability refers to the ability of a player to adapt to changes and new experiences. In poker as in life, this is a valuable skill, akin to survival. A persons' adaptability can be measured by his ability to accept & integrate new information and to modify his behavior accordingly. A high level of adaptability is a certain advantage in environments that are evolving fast, such as poker.

Not everybody has a great capacity for adaptation, either in life or in poker, but thank God this skill can be learned. The first think is to be aware that what you know or what you learned about the other players at the table is not written in stone, as they will change or adapt themselves.

Focus on the dynamics of the table. For example if a maniac seats at the table, the game flow will change dramatically and all players will adapt. This is one of the most obvious situation where adaptation is necessary and by observing how each player adapts to the maniac, you can learn about the players themselves.

Everyone will player looser, but some players will start to take big risks and gamble with the maniac, while others will only play slightly looser without taking inconsiderate risks. The former are LAGs seeking ego boosting action, the latter are rocks waiting for the nuts to take the maniac's stack.

If one LAG gets all in against the maniac and loses his stack, he will become very aggressive against him and try to get him, and to get his money back. This is a form of tilt almost, and sometimes this is the opportunity for another player to win a big pot if he happened to have a strong hand at the right time.

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How to be adaptable in poker

Being stubborn is a serious leak. If this is your nature, you have to learn how to become more flexible.

Constantly observing your opponents and paying attention to the momentum at the table. Asking yourself what reactions each event may induce. Is there any player tilting after a bad beat? Was the table bully caught doing a big bluff?

Be particularly careful not to jump to conclusions too fast about a given player. If you note that a player made a specific type of play like second or third barreling with air, you know that he is capable of doing that. But do not assume that the next time he bets aggressively at all streets, he is bluffing again. On the contrary witty players often mix up their games to mislead you.

The key is to be constantly a detective seeking new hints of what the situation is and how it will change. One example of how you can be adaptable is in your c-betting strategy.


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