Poker Skill Changes
With the number of Texas Hold ‘Em experts growing exponentially as the game has become more popular, the tactics needed to win have also seen major changes. In the early days of the game, the people who were considered to be top players used a combination of understanding of the game and a talent for reading people as their basic skill sets to be successful. However, the skills necessary to be a winner in today’s game are quite different and are a long way from the game’s early stars.
Being able to pick up physical and verbal “tells” gave expert players a great advantage when dealing with opponents. This psychology was used to determine the strength of a player’s hand and some players were able to use this information to reduce an opponent’s range down to a single possible hand. With online poker being the most common way to play the game today, finding “tells” is much more difficult than in the pre-Internet age of poker.
Instead of being able to see visual cues that could translate to information regarding a player’s hand, online players often study mathematical elements, such as bet sizing or the delay before betting to infer valuable information. Even these can be misleading as a delay in betting could also indicate an opponent being occupied for a second or two before acting.
In addition to using tells, another area where online poker has changed the skills needed to succeed in poker is in the math of the game. Early professionals understood the basic math’s and probability statistics involved in poker and used them to determine profitable plays, but the new generation of online players use more math to influence their decision and as a basis for how they play the game.
Poker software allows a person to see information that could be extremely valuable, such as aggression ratings and the percentage of hands that an opponent will play. These and other statistics give an online player the information needed to construct a range of possible hands that a player could hold and then act in the way that will be most profitable against the range rather than a specific hand. This solid mathematical foundation has changed the game both online and in live situations.
As the younger maths – based players entered the live poker arena, they have incorporated strategies that have made it increasingly difficult to predict their possible hand holdings. The biggest manifestation of this change is in the level of aggression that is employed, making more raises with weaker holdings to put pressure on their opponents and gain more information.
Many of the older players who based their skills on people reading and basic math are finding that the newer generations are increasingly difficult to play against and that they must adapt their skill sets if they would like to remain competitive.
In current times, an exceptional player has not only a full understanding of all the statistics available to them, but also an ability to read people in the live setting and think critically about which decisions will be most profitable in any situation.