Understanding Your Table Image in Poker

One of the most difficult concepts for beginning professional poker players to get their head around is the idea of table image and how it should be considered in real time playing situations. Most players are able to develop their own formulation of the table image of opponents, but when it comes to themselves, they are unable to translate this information into a workable strategy. This can especially difficult in online rooms like PokerStars, but it is definitely a worthwhile skill to master. Understanding how opponents view a player is a key skill in taking the player's game to the next level. There are several different aspects of this skill, all of which are relevant to understanding how to play free poker games and beat the game at the highest levels.

In its basic sense, a player should pay attention to their own play to gain an idea of how other players will see them. If they are raising every hand and firing big bets constantly, their common image will be as a loose and aggressive player. Therefore, the opponents will start to call more in situations where they might otherwise fold. The opposite side of the coin is also true. A tight player that hasn't played a hand in hours may get more respect with a big bet than someone who has been very active at the table. A player does not need to record their actual percentage of hands played, but they will need to maintain an idea of how many pots they are entering and how other players are responding. This information can be used to adjust their strategy and increase their returns.

For the previous example of the loose and aggressive player, getting too many calls may require that the player change gears and switch to a tighter style for a few rounds. In many cases, the opponents will not notice the abrupt or gradual change and assume that the player is still playing their normal aggressive style. The player can then capitalise by making big value bets with made hands because there will be a greater expectation of being called down. The tight player should be more willing to open up their game and attack when their opponents seem weak. Making more three bets preflop and check raises on later streets will be perceived as strength, especially when the player has been extremely tight for a decent period of time.

The other main factor in a player understanding and using their table image is the idea that not all opponents will be paying attention to table image. For this reason, a player must always consider the skill level of their opponent in the current hand. It may be true that the player has been playing tight for the past three hours, but against an unskilled opponent that does not consider table image, this means absolutely nothing. Instead of trying to pull off a bluff based on a past tight image, the player should wait for a better opportunity with a more skilled opponent that is more likely to lay down a hand because of the table image. Being aware of table image and being able to switch gears is a hallmark of the best players of the game.