Pound on your opponents until they adjust

Pair of kings

In game theory and games in general then certain strategies work but they usually only work for a while. In poker certain strategies also work in the short term, medium term or long term. Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. We will start with a raise from position and then a bet-bet-bet line post flop when heads up. This sort of line will place a lot of pressure onto your opponent because it will force them to commit a lot more money than they may feel comfortable doing.

The best type of opponent to try this line against is one that is intermediate in strength. This is because novices tend to call down too easily and sophisticated players may detect that your range is polarised and call you down very lightly with all hands that beat a bluff. As long as your opponents or an opponent is weak against this line then you should consider continuing it until they adjust. You will know that they are adjusting because of how they will call you down lightly.

If you have gone raise-bet-bet-bet five times in a row and your opponent has folded then called you with 9-9 on an A-K-6-4-2 board then they have adjusted. Two things can happen here both of which are good for the aggressor. If they fail to adjust then you simply carry on exploiting them by aggression. If they eventually adjust and call then you lose a little money. You have already won smaller amounts from them and so one big call from them may put you temporarily behind…… but it is only temporarily because the game is continuing and you should never allow yourself to lose sight of that fact.

So you now adjust back but your adjustment will now be ahead of their adjustment. They have now decided to call your barrels down more lightly but this works for us as long as we no longer multi-barrel bluff. Then we simply refrain from bluffing and adjust our value betting lines to include weaker hands but hands that will ultimately beat most of their calling range. So at the higher levels or at levels where your opponents are thinking in a more sophisticated way then the game is one long continuous series of decisions.

Only at the lower levels of play are your decisions being made roughly within a vacuum. In games like No Limit Texas Hold’em then we need to pound on our opponents until they adjust. When they do adjust then this usually places them temporarily ahead. For example we may run four multiple barrel bluffs with a total profit of say 70bb but then lose 120bb when they call us down lightly.

This puts us 50bb behind but we then make 100bb off them by value betting lighter next time and so are now 50bb ahead. However what often happens is that our opponent still remembers the initial lines that we took and will still be in a mindset to call us down lightly again.