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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Developing my playing style

I'm still working on my own style of play in tournament and cash games.

There is a lot advantage in playing a tight style. The biggest one is that it reduces variance. But the bad beats you get with those premium hands are plain awful. So what about a looser style? Bigger variance but more flexibility. I think both styles have value as long as you play the right hands with the correct value according to your style.

So what about me? I tried both styles and worked with them. I tried to find out how they work for me and what kind of image they create to my opponents. Both allow interesting ways to built your play but if I'm honest to myself I'm much more an "action junkie" than the "calm and big tree in the storm". Either way I have to be careful. Playing tight I tend to loosen up after long dry periods and play too much crap. Playing loose I am risking to get "caught by the action" and overplaying my hands.

I know this habit for a long time and I was able to control the "gambler" in me quit early in my BJ times. I just became aware of this habit again and if I continue to control it I can use it to my advantage at the game of poker.

I'm not made for the crazy style of a Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey or Gus Hansen. All three are brilliant players but the their balance act on the edge is even too much for me.
I'm not made for the tight style of a Phil Helmuth. That's not enough action for me. And I prefer to give the bad beats than take them. It's some kind of funny to see people cry about "how one could play THAT hand" and showing that they don't understand the deeper math behind. Just knowing the basic concepts (tight, aggressive, weak, loose etc) isn't enough!

Since a long time I'm a big fan of Chris Ferguson and now I start to realize why. He is a great combination of aggression and mathematical background. Look closer to his game and you may see some strange moves that are just plain brilliant if you analyze them in detail. "Action Dan" Harrington is another great example of this type of player.

Don't understand me wrong - I'm far far away to compare myself with any of those great guys! I just took them as an example for easier illustration.
So as I defined my style what do I have to do next? I have to learn much more about the mathematics of aggresive play. In my mind there are a lot of ideas for some "crazy" moves but a lot of them are -EV and should be avoided. But several others may drive my opponents crazy and will still be +EV.

So if you met me at the table next time - be careful if you want to mess with the Shadow ;-))


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