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Kathy Liebert - Techniques for Women


Techniques for Women
By Kathy Liebert

In my last article, I introduced the idea that there are different styles that can be effective at the poker table. In this article, I will discuss the different styles that women can use to be successful poker players.

In general, an aggressive style is more effective at the poker table than a passive one. Aggressive style means playing your hands strongly by betting and raising. A passive style means you do more checking and calling. The reasons an aggressive style is generally more effective is because it gives you more ways to win. If you bet or raise with a hand, it is more likely your opponents will throw their hands away. This serves two purposes. First, a player may throw away a hand that doesn't have you beat at the moment but could beat you on a future card. Second, an opponent may actually throw away a hand that has you beat currently.

By playing more aggressively, you give yourself more chances to win the pot. Even among aggressive players, there are different styles. Some aggressive opponents play many hands and bet and raise with very weak cards. While other players are much more selective about their starting hands but once involved play them stronger by betting and raising when they are in the hand. There are also different styles among passive players. Some passive players will check and call with weak hands while other passive players will check and call only with above average cards. Many good poker players use a style referred to as selectively aggressive. This style is often very effective. A selectively aggressive style means you generally play above average starting hands but play them strongly. This is the style used by most poker professionals. They are selective about the hands they play, but once involved in the pot they will not meekly check and call but rather bet and raise with their hand.

In general, women tend to play a more passive style then men. Maybe just by the nature of their gender, men are more aggressive. Women can use this to their advantage in several ways. First of all, if a woman holds a very strong hand, she may want to sometimes play it passively to allow the overly aggressive male to put money in the pot. By sometimes checking and calling you can induce people with weak hands to bet your hand for you. By playing passively, you deceive them into thinking you hold a weak holding and they may bet anticipating you will fold your hand. While I do not recommend using this approach as your main style, it can be effective in some circumstances.

Often if you are playing with loose players (players who will call with weak hands) you will do better by choosing the aggressive style. One of the keys to being successful at poker is being able to change styles. This is often referred to as changing gears. You will have to determine which approach is best given the type of players you are up against. So if you are playing against players who will bluff often, you may choose to play passively. If you are playing against players who will only bet if they have good hands, you may want to bet your own hand.

I believe many poker players underestimate women players. Many men seem to play women as if they were open books. Often if a woman checks the man will assume she is weak and bet. If a woman bets or raises they will often give her credit for having a good hand. If a woman re-raises they may assume she holds the best possible hand and fold even their stronger holdings.

I would suggest to most women who play regularly with men to think about how they perceive you and play deceptively. Obviously, not all men think or play alike just as not all women play alike. Often, players will tell you their views or give away information about how they think and play. If you want to have good results at the poker table, watch how people play and listen to what they say. By paying attention to how your opponents play you will have a better chance of determining what style to use against them. It is likely you will have a general tendency to play a style that suits your personality. You may be a conservative type who is more comfortable with a more passive style or you may have aggressive tendencies. Be aware of what your tendencies are and make an effort to change gears and experiment with the different styles. By purposely changing your style sometimes, you will be harder for your opponents to read and you will become a better player.

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