Step 1: Analyze a Typical Opponent
In the first step you try to get a precise overview of the situation and gather information. How does a typical opponent play in a specific situation? A typical opponent is the one you encounter most often at your own limits. Tracking software can be very helpful here. But you need at least 4,000 hands of the opponent in the database. If you can’t or don’t want to use tracking software, you have to estimate the opponent’s ranks.
Then you have to create a pre-flop profile of the opponent. This is made up of the specific ranks and special features of the opponent’s playing behavior. The tracking software again provides preflop ranges. Peculiarities in gaming behavior result from the analysis of individual hands.
In concrete terms, this means trying to find out which hands the opponent plays pre-flop and how: which hand does he use to open raise? Which one is a 3-bet or 4-bet call? What hands does he fold? How does he behave with showdown values and how does he react to continuation bets? What does he do when the preflop aggressor checks? This results in the opponent’s ranges and fold equities.
Step 2: Determine the Basic Game Plan
The basic game board is the basis for decisions in the game against a standard opponent. You define specific preflop ranges and develop lines for typical post-flop situations. Lines refer to bidding sequences or bidding strategies that consist of several actions, including over several betting rounds, such as check / raise, check / fold or check / call.
Possible points of attack are ranges and characteristics of the opponent, with which you can make very precise predictions about your hand strength and your playing behavior. Based on these points, you set up your ranges in such a way that you can make profitable decisions as easily as possible. To do this, you have to try different ranks and try to assess the respective consequences.
Here you try to find out which hands the opponent plays for value and which ones he bluffs. You try to estimate the opponent’s reaction and put together your range accordingly.
Step 3: Adapt the Basic Game Plan to Different Enemy Types
The basic game plan now represents a sophisticated strategy against the standard opponent. In practice, however, you will encounter many different opponents. In step 3 it is now taken into account how the peculiarities of the game of different opponents affect the basic game plan. To do this, you have to compare the other opponents with the standard opponent and work out differences. How do the changes affect the ranges?
Here you specifically adapt your ranges and your post-flop game to passive and aggressive types of players. For example, if an opponent folds after most 3 bets, every 3 bet is profitable. If he calls a 3-bet, it is better to give up the hand. If the opponent folds only a few hands post-flop, you should adjust your own range and only play very strong hands. Against a player who often folds after continuation bets, you can often make bluff bets on the flop.
Step 4: Find Weaknesses in Your Own Game Plan
Every game plan, especially the first few attempts, has weaknesses. You have to know these so that you can tell when your opponents are using them. The weaknesses can be found by putting yourself in the position of your opponents and examining the game plan for points of attack. One wonders how one would play against oneself?
A game plan also helps to make session reviews much more effective. If you have a difficult hand, you can recall the game board and then analyze the hand in context with it. The analyzes for the ranges get better and better over time.
Adjust and Adhere to the Game Plan
In the different phases of a tournament, the game plan has to be adjusted. There are also some top players who instinctively choose the right strategy in the game after they have just “started playing”. But until you get to this level, you can only benefit from a game plan written before the game and followed in the game. Of course, this must not be too tight (“I only play KK and AA”), but it has to set some limits within which you can make your decisions.
Everyone knows situations in which after a loss you find that you made a stupid mistake. Often these are situations that a plan could have prevented. If you have a tight game plan, you only want to play strong hands. But what if he gets A-2 and is dealt on the flop and turn K-4-5-K? Here the opponent probably has a very strong hand: at least three of a kind, possibly even a full house. Nevertheless, you call all of the opponent’s raises and after the river has brought an 8 you try even a weak bluff. Here you lose a lot of money and may lose even more if you run after that loss in the next few rounds. Something like that can happen,
It is important that you do not restrict yourself too much. You have to allow yourself freedom so that you don’t become too predictable. If you only act according to a fixed pattern, it is too easy to read.