MCU poker tip: Shifting gears

One of the most widely discussed strategies by professional poker players is called “shifting gears.” As an example of shifting gears, you might change suddenly from very aggressive, loose play to very defensive, conservative play. The theory is that you put opponents off balance, because you always make the adjustment before they recognize and try to adjust to it.

While I agree that shifting gears can be important, you need to do it for a specific purpose. Remember that if opponents aren’t observant or don’t react incorrectly — by calling too much when you shift to tight gear or by folding too much when you suddenly shift to loose gear — then you’re wasting your time shifting gears. In particular, it’s usually a mistake to shift gears in loose, small-limit games where opponents treat poker like bingo and make decisions more on the strength of their own cards than on how they perceive you. If your poker opponents don’t adjust unwisely to your gear shifts, don’t shift.

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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