If you’ve ever played a game of poker or even been an audience, you’ll realize that the game if full of some players that are better than the others. This creates an obvious hierarchy between the players. Close observers of the game will also realize, that not only is there an obviously visible hierarchy in the game, but it also isn’t like any ordinary playground power structure. The hierarchy consists of predators and prey that use the game to either hunt or be hunted. Poker’s often been compared to a marine ecosystem, where you either sink or swim, and some of the key players are either simply fish in the sea, or they’re the intimidating poker sharks.
Before I begin my instructional manual on how to become a poker shark, let’s take a tour of this ecosystem and meet its members. In the proverbial poker sea, we’ll meet our weaker players, who make up the bottom rung of the pyramid; the fish. There are like they say; plenty of fish in the sea. Then come to the whales, who are simply fish but on a larger scale. Maybe they’ve been playing for years but haven’t improved or maybe they just talk a big game, with nothing to back it up. And lastly, at the top of our pyramid, come the poker sharks. These are the best players and are easily the most experienced ones. These players are feared by everyone. They are calculative and cunning. They’re ruthless when they attack and make use of every opportunity to their advantage.
Poker sharks sound impressive, and they make you wish you were one of them, right? Well, don’t worry. I’ll be showing you how to do just that.
Poker sharks tend to play a very balanced poker game. They mix up their game and play an equal amount of high value cards and bluffs. This confuses their opponents because they can never tell if the player is simply bluffing or has the cards to back up his or her bet.
They also vary their poker hands with ranges of differing strengths. They do this so that they can meet any line of betting they take, with strong hands. While fishes can only play with good hands and tend to fold otherwise, sharks are more versatile and keep several options open.
They definitely play a streamlined game.
Adaptation is one of the tenets of the animal kingdom, and sharks are no exception. Poker sharks tend to be the best at adapting to different situations. They’re experienced and skilled enough to be able to read the table and adjust accordingly. Not only that, but they also use changing situations to their advantage and advance their own game.
For example, if a table is playing loose, a shark will tighten up and he’ll strike when the time is right. Or if he sees a weaker player tilting, he will exploit that player to the fullest. Sharks are analyzing and evaluating a game to suit their needs.
Basically, a shark learns to swim with the changing currents.
Players can win a poker game in two ways; either they have the best hand at the table and showcase that at the showdown, or they have to be aggressive and force their opponents into folding so that they can win.
Fishes tend to go via the first route, and only win when they have winning hands. Poker sharks, on the other hand like to play an intimidating game, where they don’t need to wait till the showdown to win. They do this by putting their opponents out of their comfort zone and on the spot. When they have no option but to fold, a shark takes home the pot.
Sharks put the ‘fin’ in finishing first.
Poker sharks are passionate about the game, and they realize how fast it evolves and changes. They like to keep up with newer strategies and game concepts. So, in a way, they focus on poker, even when not at the table.
Such players consume a lot of poker related content, like reading poker books, blogs or forum posts and they’ll even watch videos. They’ll review their hand histories, go through all the starting hands, check up on their win rate and do all the poker related things under the sun. This is why they can come up with the best strategies and win so often.
Yes sharks are strong, but they can be nerds, too.
5) Tables and Seats:
Poker sharks are very well aware of the advantages of selecting the right poker table and the right seat at that table. They’ll always look for tables that have weaker players, who will lose money and strengthen the pot. They also join games halfway, after a player has left the game, and use this confusion to their advantage.
Plus, they know that seating can make or break your game, so they’ll always pick the position that suits them. And if not, then they’ll play the correct game for the position they’re at. They’ll know how to bet and raise according to their position, and they use this knowledge to their favor.
Sharks don’t sink; they sit at the table and win.
6) Starting Hand Ranges:
As mentioned before, the position a player is seated at, is extremely important. For example, if a player is out of position after the flop and they’re seated further right of the button, then they will have to play a tighter hand range.
Poker sharks know everything about starting hand ranges, which means that they know which hand to play with, at what position. This is why they can consistently play a good game. Further, they also know when to break these rules and play a riskier game to their advantage.
A shark thinks as fast as he swims.
In poker, playing the game is important, but you also have to play your opponents. Poker sharks know of this and tend to keep a very sharp eye on their fellow players. They notice patterns in the playing strategies and pick up on the tiniest of flaws.
They keep all of this data, about their opponents, in their mind and exploit them, whenever an opportunity presents itself. This kind of thinking and calculated playing is what really gives them an edge.
Sharks have a strong sense of smell, but these sharks have better eyesight.
8) Reviewing Hands:
Poker sharks love to analyze their own game. So whenever they’re playing, they always keep track of their hands. They like to note which hands function, in what way.
So if they play a hand that they know is going to create trouble for their game, they’ll mark it and review it later. They’ll want to see why playing that hand caused trouble, and what they could have done in that situation. When they review a wide variety of hands, they become capable of making the best decisions.
Who knew that a shark’s memory was so powerful?
Don’t let the title mislead you. Poker sharks don’t care about the money aspect of poker. Of course, they care about the pot and the amount they bet, along with its strategic value, but they don’t think about it in a conventional sense.
Whenever a poker game takes a turn for the worse, sharks don’t fret thinking about the money they’ve bet. They tend to be calm in the face of the highs and lows of the game. They can’t play the game carrying the burden and pressure of the money they are risking. They can only think of it in terms of the game. This really frees up their decision-making process.
Sharks aren’t hungry for money; they’re hungry to win the game.
Most players tend to be adversely affected by their emotions while playing poker. You can see them sweat and fear over a bad decision or a wrong move. When a player wears their emotions on their face, it can not only be a huge tell, but it also clouds their judgment.
Poker sharks, on the other hand, tend to be cool and collected. They’ve learnt to keep their emotions in check and use rational logic to win the game. This is how they can function at their optimum best and win so frequently.
There’s no crying in poker, and there’s no crying for sharks.
As we reach the end of our list, we can safely say that we’ve gone over all the possible poker shark traits. You’ve read the list, and you can begin to imbibe some of these qualities in order to transcend from a fish to a shark. However, simply reading the list does not help. We’ve established that sharks are experienced and play a lot of poker. So that’s what you need to do, as well. Don’t worry, this step is very easy. Come join us at Spartan and play some online poker games.