Don’t Play Your Hand: Do THIS Instead

Don’t Play Your Hand: Do THIS Instead

Playing your opponent is the key to successfully winning at Texas Hold’em. The next time you think otherwise just remember this quote from Doyle Brunson.

“Poker is a game of people. That’s the most important lesson you should learn…. People… and the strategy you use against them. More than any other game, Poker depends on your understanding your opponent.”

Too often do we get preoccupied with our own two cards. I see it time and time again: people get married to the absolute strength of their hand with no regard for what their opponents are holding.

This idea of playing the player has become renown, but it’s lacking one key element; it’s only applied when we’re on defense.

In other words the vast majority of the poker community only interprets this to mean that they should fold big hands when their opponents could have them beat.

That’s only half the battle. What about when your opponents are weak, and you can represent the monster?

Check out this weeks’ video to see what I’m talking about.

You get it? Based on how my opponents played the hand I know that neither of them(almost never) have the nuts.

I can easily represent it, which puts them in a really precarious spot.

Here’s my exercise for you. Try to implement this strategy into your own game to make yourself tougher to play against and put your opponents to the test.

You can start by answering these questions to find ways to improve.

1. Are you playing the player or playing your hand?

2. Recall a few tricky hands which you played and see if there was anything different which you could have done to outwit your opponents.

Now develop a game plan which you will use to face your 3 most frequented or difficult opponents.

3. Before you make decisions at the poker table ask yourself what hands you’re trying to represent and how your opponent will likely respond to a given action you wish to take.

Always be asking: what am I trying to accomplish?

Use these strategies to help you play the player instead of the hand and watch as you begin to crush the competition.

You dig this stuff? Be sure to subscribe so you stay tuned for updates.

Now it’s your turn to share. Leave a comment and let me know your favorite example of a time when you played the player!

Thanks for sharing.


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  • Roberto

    hey Alec, thanks for the video. Your hand analysis are always amazing, free and much better value than a lot of videos you find for sale from other guys pretending to be poker coaches 🙂
    My question here is: if you really had Ac or Kc as you represent on the river, wouldn’t you have c-bet the flop? Also you say you bet too small but, in line with your plan a $3K bet looks a lot more like trying to extract value with the nuts by giving better pot odds. Thanks again for the great work

  • Alec

    Hi Roberto,

    Great question. Sometimes I check the flop with those hands for balance and deception.
    If you’re not doing that, then you can’t successfully represent strong hands on the river. It also depends on your opponents.

    Good point on the bet sizing. Again, it depends on what your opponents will think, so you have to use discretion there!

    Thanks for commenting.

  • Jose L. Amieva

    Hi Alec my ingles isn’t too good I am Cuban, sorry for any errors you see in my writing. That bluffs was amazing, how you read the hand omg is impress ,ty… I tried to learn poker little by little to see if I can play some tournament, ty again

  • Alec

    Hi Jose,
    Thanks a lot I appreciate that! Best of luck to you.

  • ian collenette

    Hi Alec. thanks for all your videos, they’re a great source of inspiration. I have been playing for about 5 or 6 years but only at low stakes. just as I get some momentum in my game and start getting some results, I hit a slump. I know that poker has a huge variance but I feel that I need to learn more to improve enough to get to the next level and win on a regular bases. my question is ..what one thing would you focus on to help me get to the next stage of my poker life?

  • Alec

    Hi Ian,

    You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoy them!

    Great question. You should be studying more than you play. The biggest difference between amateurs and pros is that the pros divide the time they commit to poker between working and playing, whereas amateurs merely play.

    Start to study and spend time ON the game away from the table, and watch the work pay off!

    Hope that helps!

  • Rodsta

    This is a great hand to show. I like the flop check not only for balance but it eliminates the check raise and allows you to present an AcXx hand as taking a free card. The river bet I agree with you in that it should be nearer the pot bet mark as it also says ‘value from the hidden nuts’ whilst it acts as a greater deterrent to a player thinking ‘well he only has to be bluffing one in three for this to be a correct call’ and then calling it off to either keep you honest or because he knows you are capable of making the play.

  • Alec

    Hi Rodsta,

    Thanks for the compliment. Well said too, interesting analysis!