Changing Up your Game ?

This was published 09-07-2009

With the WSOP currently running and tons of poker related news and blog posts, i figured i’d get back to basics.  I recently read an article about how Phil Hellmuth is changing his game up at the WSOP.  As a player with the most tournament wins at WSOP, is this really a wise move?  He says that he is no longer avoiding aggressive opponents who threaten to knock him out.  In the past he has avoided all in situations, opting instead to outplay opponents without letting them get lucky.  This translates to players pushing their stack when they no longer want to see cards, andHistorically Phil will fold.  This year he Says “All those amateurs making all those crazy moves on me that they got away with in the past, this year I’m calling.”

Changing up your game can be very difficult for most people.  If you’re a conservative person by nature, and you want to start playing loose and easy, that transition is not going to feel comfortable for you.  You’ll want to check the flop, even when in position (bad move anyways) or you’ll want to bet the minimum amount to get the player to fold (generally a good rule of thumb), but if you’re playing out of character this could easily backfire on you.

On the flip side, if you’re an ultra aggressive player who is trying to really pick their spots, you wont be able to help yourself in seeing opportunity when the table checks around and you folded preflop.  This could lead to you overplaying rag hands and getting money in when you’re behind (“i missed that opportunity last hand, I’m not going to let another one go by”).

My advice?  Choose a lower level than your use to playing in and really practice those skills.  Make it a low risk area, and make sure that the result  you’re looking forisn’t “making money” but improving your game.  If you’re goal is to only play premium hands, stick to it and see how your fare.  You may be surprised.  And if your goal is to become ultra aggressive, do that too, and track it.  Give yourself pro’s and con’s to playing that way, and see how you can incorporate it into your regular game.

Switching up during the WSOP?  Leave that to Phil Hellmuth.

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