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How To Spot A Dangerous Poker Player
by Alan England

Letís examine what we think a dangerous player is to us. Players that we respect, fear, admire, and would like to imitate, all at the same time. Most of us have heard the old saying, "If you don't know who the fish is in the game after the first fifteen minutes, then it's you." Let us take this one step further, and look at it a bit differently. "If you don't know who the most dangerous player in your game is within the first fifteen minutes, then you don't belong in that game." This of course does not apply if you happen to be the most dangerous player in the game. Let us assume that you are not the most dangerous player in the game, and want to know who is. What traits would look for to find out? It is just as important to know the player that you should fear in a game, as it is to know which players you can intimidate, or out-play.

Question

What would you consider the traits to look for to judge whether a player can be dangerous competition to you in (Hold'em, Stud, Omaha etc.) A player that you would consider "dangerous" in so far as deceitful play, changing gears, betting or raising strategy, that would cause you to play very carefully against him.

Opinion 1

I would consider a dangerous player one that I could rarely put on a hand. A player who appears to play a generally proper tight and aggressive game, but is still deceptive enough to surprise you repeatedly when they do show down a hand.

Opinion 2

There are two kinds of dangerous players. The first is dangerous because they are very stupid. The second is dangerous because they are very good. Some of the specific behaviors I look for to recognize dangerous players are,

(1) When the flop falls, they watch the players, not the cards.

2) They are capable of raising and releasing a hand in the same betting round.

(3) They never voluntarily show a hand.

(4) They induce bluffs on the river. This last one is the subtlest of the four and may be one of best indicators of a dangerous player.

Opinion 3

Some of the traits that I look for in someone that I consider dangerous:

1) They are aggressive

2) They consistently makes good decisions

3) They do not play many hands, but when they do, they win a very high percentage of them.

4) They allow nothing to adversely affect their game

Let me get slightly off-track for a second. This is not one of the signs of a dangerous player. Years ago one of the things that used to intimidate me, and make me think someone was a dangerous player, was when I was seated in a game in an unfamiliar card room. I would then notice that one or more of the players personally knew, and were friends with each other, and the dealer. I always suspected them of being good players because they knew everyone, and must be good because they played regularly. I figured that they knew how each other played, so they only had to concentrate in learning how I played. I, in turn had to watch how all of them played to pick up any information. This was a much more difficult task. It didn't take me long to see that I had did not have to fear players who were strangers to me, but were friends with the other people in the game, and even knew the dealer's grandmothers maiden name. I found that many of them still played worse poker than I could have ever imagined.

When I sit down in a game I never judge anyone by his or her appearance. I judge them by how well they play, after watching them in action. Some people think that just looking the part, will put fear into the hearts of the other players. Me, I watch the quiet ones, those who just sit back and take in all the action, I call these types "chameleons". It is the chameleon's that blend cleverly into the game background, that you have to worry about. They are not loudmouths, they do not brag, give lessons, or berate other players.

They just sit there and wait quietly to ambush you. I am also interested in a player who can raise pre-flop and then dump the hand after the flop, if bet into or raised. These players are not afraid to release what may have started out as a great hand, but went South on the flop or the turn. When I pick out a dangerous player at my table, I will be very selective what hands I play against him, especially if he is on a rush. I will fancy-dance around him with any hands that are not premium. When he bets, and I am holding hands that I might play against a weaker opponent, I usually throw them away. What it all boils down to is this, you want all the behaviours of a dangerous player. If you have these same qualities, you will be the dangerous player, and the person that everyone will have to worry about.


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