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I plan to join a poker league at a local pub. I'm told roughly 10 to 15 players are involved each week, most of them regulars. While I played in a similar poker league in the same area in the past, I expect most of the players will have not met me.

I think there is an opportunity here: as very few players know me, very few know my playing style. With this in mind, is there anything I can do to take advantage of this to give myself a good head start?

Also, on the flip-side: is there anything I should conscious of with regards my own playing style that might working against me? - after all, I will not know my opponent's habits and play-styles either.

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Try wearing a bright pink shirt and flirting with everyone at the table, occasionally calling certain guys "hun". They'll be so rattled that you'll have a huge advantage. –  TTT Apr 5 '13 at 17:00
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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

My opinion is not to bother too much in the beginning. Just play your style and observe others' style of play. Joining a small league has the advantage that you can learn fast about your opponents, but the disadvantage that they too have the opportunity to learn about you just as fast. In conclusion, in the beginning you might have some good short term results, because they don't know you, but the results will tend to even out, looking more or less like a Nash equilibrium.

I don't know how good the other players are so I cannot make any assumptions about them. So, until proven contrary, don't try to level yourself. In the end, skill level and cards beat any exploitive tactics.

Good luck!

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From my own experience being aggressive is quite effective when you just joined the poker club and don't have any image. It means that from being neat you will not benefit advantage, but lose-aggressive style can give you something because opponents would be circumspect with you.

I think even if you manage to get any advantages caused by that you are a new player, they will be leveled and compensated in the nearest future. You should balance your image and style to prevent them from adapting to it and exploiting.

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Based on my experiences, the average pub poker player isn't aware enough to even notice how tight / loose / aggressive / passive you're playing, so don't waste effort trying to cultivate your image.

Just play nice simple ABC poker. Don't try to bluff - they'll happily call off half their stack with bottom pair, whatever your betting may be representing.

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Like Bogdan said, over time the advantage tends to even as you get to know each other and their styles of play. Because of this, I think you can create an advantage by mixing it up and trying things you wouldn't normally do. If you're on the button with no callers and a crap hand, be aggressive with the blinds, etc. However, only do this if you feel confident. If you end up going out after a few hands, it wasn't really worth it, was it?

PROS: Other players might not know your bluffing style AND you can throw them for a loop by playing differently at first and then eventually going back to your regular style of play (assuming your regular style of play worked before :) )

CONS: When I played in an offline league, we would always draw for seats (most leagues do). Because of this, I would alter my playing style based on the positions of those around me. This was a huge advantage to me because I knew those who knew how to read hands really well. etc. Being new, everyone will know about everyone else and you won't. If you're not playing with serious people then this isn't much of a disadvantage. You'll almost never play with familiar people when you enter large tournament, so this is only a disadvantage when joining an established league.

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