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SPS PODCAST

Use YOUR Table Image Against THEM

BY

Sky Matsuhashi

on February 23, 2024

Your table image is how they view you. I'll teach you to cultivate and use your poker image to help you exploit the plays they'll use against you.

Listen to this episode #478 as you follow along below:

Your Table Image

Your table image is how your opponents view you. Based on this view, it may alter how they normally approach playing a hand against you.

  • If your image is of a “calling station” they may be less likely to bluff you post-flop.
  • If your image is of a “loose-aggressive donk”, they may be less inclined to fold to your double barrels with their TPWK or 2nd pair hands.

Table image is different from your player type: the first varies widely and the second is fixed over the short-term. Player type is fixed because players don’t change their stripes quickly. A Whale today is a Whale tomorrow. But over time a player can evolve their game with study and a conscious effort to make changes.  A Whale can become a TAG, and a TAG can become a LAG. Even a NIT can become a LAG someday.

However, your table image fluctuates from session to session and even between tables within a session. I'm sure you've noticed many times when multi-tabling that your stats and image can vary widely. I can find myself being a 10/7 Nit on one table, an 18/12 TAG on another, a 30/13 Whale on a third and a 45/32 Maniac on fourth table.

 

Image Develops Naturally or Through Cultivation

Most players simply play their style of poker and their image naturally develops from this over a few rounds. There are 5 factors that work to naturally develop your image.

 

1. The Cards You’re Dealt

If you’re dealt a string of cards within your open raising ranges, and you’re given the chance to open raise repeatedly, then you’ll appear to be a loose-aggressive player who loves to open pots. If you run good and hit flop after flop with TP+ hands, you’ll find yourself cbetting frequently, making your image that of a pre and post-flop aggressive player, and your opponents will come to expect bets from you every time you’re in a pot.

To Cultivate an Image: Ignore your cards and play as the image you want to cultivate dictates. If you want a nitty image, tighten up. If you want a weak/passive image, limp/call or just call a lot. For a LAG image, open raise and 3bet a lot; ignore your cards.

 

2. The Line You Take and the Cards You Showdown

What you show the other players has a direct impact on their view of you. If your stats appear to be that of a Nit at 10/7, but they see a hand where you 3bet preflop with A5s then triple-barrel bluffed on the flopped flush draw, this will tell them to not trust your stats. If you’re capable of this line (3bet then triple-barreling) with a weak hand (A5s and busted flush draw), your 10/7 stats are not to be trusted.

To Cultivate an Image: Take aggressive or passive lines. Triple barreling looks incredibly aggressive, but limp/calls and check-calls through the streets are super passive. If you want to develop a TAG image post-flop, you can cbet the flop, check the turn and fire on the river.

 

3. The Players at the Table

Having multiple LAGs or Maniacs at your table can be profitable, but this can cause your image to be that of a preflop Nit. Their frequent open-raises will shut down your opportunity to steal pots. If you do choose to call, you’re likely calling with a small yet flop-friendly range of pocket pairs, suited Aces, suited broadways and suited connectors. If the board is running good for you, you may be making a lot of post-flop calls and raises. You’ll appear to be a preflop Nit coupled with post-flop stickiness.

To Cultivate an Image: Utilize the player types at your table and choose exploitative plays against them that also build an image. If you’ve got Nits to your left, you can open raise at every opportunity to develop a TAG or LAG image, and they’ll let you get away with this because of their foldy nature.

 

4. Your Table Position

Sometimes you’ll find that you have many weak loose-passive Whales limping in ahead of you. If you’re dealt a string of good hands, you’ll find yourself iso-raising frequently. This can make you appear to be a preflop Maniac who loves to push around limpers. And, because they limp/call with such weak hands, you may find yourself cbetting near 100% of the time expecting them to continue with their marginal pairs and weak draws. Your Maniac image will be solidified in their mind as you continually pound on them with post-flop bets.

To Cultivate an Image: If you’ve got position on openers who fold a lot, you can profit from them and develop a LAG image by 3betting them frequently. You can also see lots of flops in position when your opponents allow you to by opening in LP a lot or calling the open raises of others when those yet to act fold a lot. You can use this to allow yourself to see tons of flops in position, putting you in good money-making opportunities.

 

5. The Table Format

With less players at 6max tables, you’ll find yourself with more opportunities to open pots or call with position from the CO and BTN. This will give you a loose and either aggressive or passive image, depending on how you’re entering pots based on the prior 4 factors mentioned. At full-ring tables, there are many early positions from which you’ll choose to play more narrow ranges. Another thing to consider is that LAGs and TAGs gravitate toward 6max play because they want to fit more hands into their sessions. Full-ring games tend to attract more Nits and Whales.

To Cultivate an Image: Purposely play opposite styles of those at your table type. 6max, play a bit more passive. On full-ring, go for more tight-aggressive play.

 

Opponents Exploiting Your Image

There are two aspects to this: how they CAN exploit you and how they WILL exploit you.

 

How CAN They Exploit You?

Players CAN exploit you by attacking your frequencies:

  • If you open/fold too often, they can make profitable 3bets with any two cards.
  • If you limp/call with wide ranges, they can iso raise you with good hands that flop well and have a post-flop advantage over you.
  • When you cbet too frequently, they can check-raise or raise your cbet on the flop with a good expectation that you’ll fold.
  • If you’re a fit-or-fold post-flop player, they’ll float you in position (call your cbet) on any street with the plan of betting on the next street once you check.

The prior examples are ways they CAN exploit you, and they all have to do with playing against your tendencies: it’s exactly how you try to exploit your opponents.

 

But, Who WILL Exploit You?

But the thing you have to keep in mind is who WILL exploit you. Do you think the inexperienced Whale will notice that you only cbet with 2nd pair or better, so they’ll know to fold all their worse pairs to your cbets? Not likely. Will the multi-tabling LAG reg player notice that your check-raise cbet stat is high at 20% over 20 opportunities.  Possibly not.

The weakest players (Maniacs, Nits and Whales) won’t know how to exploit your tendencies. They find it hard to pull themselves away from their preferred style of play; acting on the cards they hold and the board facing them. But if they do play with respect to your image, it would be by staying away from your strengths. If your image is that of a Nit, they know you only play with the strongest hands and make post-flop bets with some sort of value. So, when you cbet the flop, they’ll quickly fold unless they hit a piece of the board or have a great draw. If you’re a LAG who check-raises a lot, they’ll check-behind often unless they have a hand they want to build the pot with.

The players most likely to exploit your image are TAGs and LAGs playing only a few tables.  These players have the time to watch your actions and observe your showdowns. They’re capable of playing the player and adjusting to table images.

Against multi-tabling TAGs and LAGs, you have less of a worry about them exploiting your table image. They’re playing more or less robotically, and utilizing standard plays and your player type to make their decisions.

As you play, pay attention to any players potentially exploiting your image.

 

Respond to Their Exploitative Plays

How do you take advantage of your opponent’s image-based exploits against you? Completing these sentences will help you figure this out:

I am a   (1)   , so they will exploit me by   (2)   .  I can profit from this by   (3)   .

(1) This is your current table image developed either naturally or purposely.

(2) These are the strategies that someone who is “playing the player” can use against you.

(3) This is the “changing gears” strategy you employ that will turn their exploit against them to earn you more chips.

 

Nit example:

I am a Nit, so they will exploit me by folding all but their best hands and draws versus my cbets. I can profit from this by cbet bluffing more frequently. Position and bigger bet sizing will help to convince them to fold frequently.

 

TAG example:

I am a TAG, so they will exploit me by floating every flop bet and they’ll bet as soon as I check the following street. I can profit from this by double-barreling every time I throw out the initial flop cbet. I can also use a smaller flop cbet sizing of 40% then increase it to 60% on the turn to convince them I mean business.

 

LAG example:

I am a LAG, so they will exploit me by calling down with TPWK or even 2nd pair hands against my aggression. I can profit from this by only cbetting for value with TP+ hands.

 

2-Part Challenge

Part 1: Do a 10-Minute Image Check

Over your next 3 play sessions, do an “image check” at each table every 10 minutes.  Ask yourself, “What’s my image here?” Based on your image at each table, how can your opponents exploit you, and how can you turn the tables against them?

 

Part 2: Plan “Changing Gears” Tactics

Use these sentences to plan your plays against those who try to exploit your image. Consider your natural player type or the images you often cultivate. Create different exploitative strategies to turn the tables against those who can exploit you. The more (2) and (3) you come up with, the more weapons you'll have to fight back.

I am a   (1)   , so they will exploit me by   (2)   .  I can profit from this by   (3)   .

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Sky Matsuhashi

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