Poker has evolved greatly over the years, but there are still some things that remain the same. Proper etiquette at the table, for instance, is something that all poker players should try to follow. It’s the same as football or tennis players showing good sportsmanship to their opponents, such as shaking hands before and after a game. Poker players should live by the same philosophy, and treat their opponents with respect. There are, however, some techniques that have emerged that go against poker etiquette and can make the player appear as a pantomime villain. Here we take a look at a few different poker techniques, along with some of the more controversial plays in the game.
A History of Poker Techniques – How they Appeared Online
There are so many different poker techniques that different players adopt. Some are completely above board and encouraged within the game, while others are considered to be controversial. While it doesn’t take too long to introduce a new player to poker and show them the fundamentals of the game, those who want to take their play to the next level and cut it with the pros need to incorporate advanced techniques in order to prevail.
One of the essential strategies that all players should learn is the small ball, which is the art of increasing your chips without risking a lot of them. For it to be effective, players need to get in as many pots as possible, and constantly put pressure on their opponents. It’s best to play small ball in a late position, but it can be played from anywhere at the table when the blinds are low. Using this technique gives the impression of a maniac, and the other players at the table will find it extremely hard to work out your range. This means that they can expect you to play almost anything, and are more likely to fold to you later on in the game when you put in your big bluffs. By doing this, players can also bluff with smaller amounts, as the opponents are going to see them as unpredictable.
Another technique for building up your stack early on is blind stealing. It’s best to do this when you’re in a position to open the pot and try to take down the blinds before a flop is dealt. This is helped if you also use the small ball technique, because it means you can bet fewer chips to take down the blinds. Apart from when trying to steal blinds, though, the main pro technique is always to play position. If you are always the last to act, it gives you ample opportunity to get a read on where your opponent is at.
All of these techniques have translated well to the online world of poker, and are great to employ in tournament play.
What are the Most Controversial Techniques?
Aside from the common techniques that have helped players take their games to the next level, there are some more controversial ways of playing that could be classed as seriously bad sportsmanship. These are the kinds of things that happen at a table and cause all of the players around to get angry. Poker can be an emotional game, but players need to understand that they should control their feelings at the table, and think about others’ feelings as well.
One of the worst techniques imaginable in the world of poker is slow-rolling. This is when a player who has the nuts waits for an extended period of time before calling an all-in bet or revealing their hand at a showdown situation. An example of this could be in a situation when a player has gone all in, and then their opponent makes it look like they are in two minds about calling. After a while, they call and throw down the winning hand, such as an ace-high flush. Poker etiquette states that players should call or reveal their cards immediately if they have the winning hand, so as not to give their opponent false hope that they could still take down the pot. This is why slow rolling is so bad.
String betting is another controversial technique. This is where players will try to get a read on their opponents by pretending they are about to bet, or betting more after their original bet. This is actually illegal in poker games and is normally penalised if seen.
Luckily, slow rolling online is difficult, as players usually have a time limit within which to act. String betting is also impossible in an online situation.
Which Poker Players have Used Controversial Techniques?
While slow rolling may be seen as one of the worst things you can do in poker, there are still many occasions when it is seen in live poker games. There have been some cases where the victim of the slow roll was able to have the last laugh, however.
In the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event, Mikel Habb famously slow rolled Sam Abernathy on Day 4. The Australian was holding pocket kings and came up against an all-in bet from Abernathy who was holding pocket sixes. While Habb didn’t necessarily have the nuts, he did have one of the best pre-flop hands in poker. He preceded to act like he had a tough decision to make for a few minutes. He then called and flipped over his hand, and acted like he had already won. Justice was served, though, as a six peeled off on the river and gave Abernathy the win.
Not everyone would take being slow rolled as well as Abernathy did, and some players like Phil Helmuth have been known to verbally abuse those who try to use the controversial technique.
If you want to take your poker game to the next level, stick to using the techniques which are above board. If you start using slow rolls or string bets, other players will get extremely angry.