Humble Beginnings: On Starting a Poker Game
Most poker players make the mistake of ignoring the beginning of a poker game, thinking that they could wait for the right time for the right play. What they don't realize is that the beginning of a poker game decides several important factors in poker: tempo, your table image, and the betting patterns of other players.
One must take into consideration that in the beginning of a poker game, everything starts at equivalent amounts: bets, everyone's behavior, and the pace of the game. The beginning is where these things are initially decided. An emphasis should be put on the word initially, since the game could be swayed into one or more directions. Regardless of that, a good start would often mean a good game.
The beginning of a poker game dictates tempo. Tempo means the pace of the game. Is the game loose, meaning most players play aggressively? Or is the game tight, meaning most players play passively? It is difficult to set up tempo at the beginning of a poker game, since one is only starting to build up an image and read the other players' behavior. However, the starting tempo would help you decide your actions later in the game. For example, playing aggressively in a tight game might be more rewarding, since you are forcing them either to put more money in the pot or to fold.
Table image is also immediately painted at the beginning of a poker game. Table image means the tendencies and patterns of behavior of a player. The beginning of a poker game does not only open the possibility of reading your opponents' behavior, it also allows you to establish your own. It is good to create a confusing behavior, so as not to make you easy to be read by other players.
Once the poker game begins, it also opens up the opportunity for observing betting patterns. Try to observe the stakes of each bet across the game. This means looking at the pot odds, or how much the player expects to win relative to their bet. If a player has a negative pot odd, meaning their possible winnings are equal to or lower than their bet, one should put this action into careful consideration. Is the player bluffing or not? Their previous betting pattern would help you tell.
Remember, the beginning of a poker game can decide the outcome of the game. Do not take it for granted, thinking that one could wait for the right time for the right play. The beginning of the poker game opens up several critical factors in a poker game: tempo, table image, and betting patterns are just some of these. Beginning a poker game with a conscious effort to observe or control these factors, along with a good continuous strategy, would surely help you win the game.