MCU poker tip: Don’t declare war on player to your left

The player seated to your left usually has a permanent positional advantage over you, because he or she will usually act after you do. I say usually, because if you’re playing a game with blind bets and are in the dealer position (a.k.a. “on the button”), that player will act first on betting rounds other than the first.

No luxury

Because the player on your left usually gets to act after you, you don’t enjoy the luxury of waiting to declare war until after he acts, when you could either raise a bet or bet into him following a check, trying to make his life miserable.

Also, if he checks, you could see the next card free by checking also, if you desire. All these last-to-act advantages are significant. And the player to your left is the one who enjoys them, not you.

What to do

So, here’s what you must do. Treat the player to your left gently and politely. If you give that player a reason to maximize his positional advantage over you, he probably will. If you give him no reason to make it tough on you, your life will be easier and more profitable.

Remember, you must be very significantly better than an opponent to your left to play fancy or aggressively against him. If your relative skills are anywhere near even, it’s better to keep the peace. — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today’s foremost authority of poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full biography at Poker1.com.

2 thoughts on “MCU poker tip: Don’t declare war on player to your left”

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    1. Hi, Cherry —

      You can occasionally target a player to your left on a case by case basis. You’ll need a specific reason, such as that the player is easy to bluff or calls excessively.

      And, of course, you sometimes can attack when you’re in the dealer position,, because the player to your left will act before you on future betting rounds.

      But even then, you might unintentionally be declaring war against an opponent who usually has superior position. So be careful.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

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