Working at a busy casino in one of the UK's major cities understandably means that you get large amounts of rookie players making their first timid steps into the live poker world.
I enjoy it. To be honest, it's the only time when I'm dealing for players that are less knowledgeable about the game than I am. I make sure they use the right chips, play in turn and know the etiquette. I try and keep them safe, from the nefarious sharks circling them.
Often times these players emerge from these waters with a huge stack of chips though, with the regulars shaking their heads and complaining about how badly they play.
You only have to deal a couple games like this until you wonder, are they playing ‘badly' or do they just want to be seen that way?
I keep banging on about this, but I'll say it again: Poker is a game about information. We win when we've got enough information on our opponents, and we lose when we don't. Everything stems from this knowledge, from the correct bet-size you need to push a player off his hand, to whether or not you should call on the river.
Garnering information elevates you from a student of the game, to the master of the table. This isn't the only way to rule a table though. Feeding misinformation to your opponents can be just as powerful.
Whilst we can look more of a threat to the table by correctly predicting your opponents hand as you fold, or telling a war story of your last big win, there are also advantages to making yourself intentionally weak.
Most of us do this already without thinking about it. We do this when we're begging for a call, or when the board runs out 3-4-5 off suit.
The problem then can be that our table image widely fluctuates between hand, from strong to weak to strong. The information becomes scrambled, useless.
Whilst this is useful in situations where you want your opponent so confused they have to fold, you will never be able to build a decent-sized pot if you can't convince anyone to call your bets.
The weakest player will always get the most calls, and every value bet will get disregarded as just an undersized bluff. The weakest players can also take many lines throughout a hand that a regular player may not.
Most players will check to the raiser if they hit their hand on the flop in order to mask their hand, but by doing so you also lose an opportunity to extract more chips from a player.
Just because you call it a ‘donk' bet, doesn't mean that it's useless. The same people that call it a ‘donk' bet also underestimate their opponent, usually complaining how lucky they are when they fold on the river after three continuous bets.
‘Donks' are often able to steal pots should the board be either incredibly dry, or wet. A bunch of picture cards on the flop? Lucky donk. A bunch of garbage on the flop? Lucky donk. Donks never bet with ace-high, either. No, never. They haven't got an idea of what a bluff even is.
Again, Poker is a game about information, but the information that you give out can be carefully regulated by yourself and your actions.
By playing a way that regular players disagree with, you can also let them start think that you're a weak player, and unable to pull of the kind of moves that you normally be able to.
They will begin to underestimate you. And this, is where you can see the true power of information. This is where you can stroll up a table full of regulars, and trick them all.