Stakes:bankroll ratio -- who's got the edge (if anyone)?

Hypothetically speaking, say you had two players who are otherwise evenly matched. One has a much larger bankroll than the other.

Who has the edge when they go heads up?

Say the smaller bankrolled player is playing their usual stakes, and the larger bankrolled player joins them, moving down to stakes much lower than they usually play.

Would the higher bankrolled player have an edge because the low stakes (relative to their bankroll) enables them to relax and play looser, and call wider than they might be willing to at higher stakes?

Would the higher bankrolled player be prone to underestimating their opponent’s skill, assuming that they’re not as good since they don’t have the experience to have amassed a similarly large bankroll?

Would the lower-bankrolled player have an edge because, playing for a larger percentage of their bankroll, they value the chips that they may take out of the game more highly, and thus take the game more seriously?

Would the lower-bankrolled player have an edge because they respect the apparent skill the higher bankrolled player has, and, taking the opponent very seriously, try to play their very best?

Now think about the reverse situation, the low bankroll player comes up to play at the usual stakes the high bankroll player plays at. The low player stands to take a huge windfall if they win, but also will lose a significant chunk of their bankroll if they lose – more than sound bankroll management would recommend. Will the low stakes player play better or worse than usual, or about the same?

Of course, these things shouldn’t matter. But human nature being what it is, often things that shouldn’t matter can make a difference, if people think about them. This is what happens all the time to competitors in pressure situations.

Would knowing the bankroll size of your opponent change the way you played against them, regardless of the actual stakes you’re playing at? Why, or why not?

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There’s no such thing as “human nature.” There are quite a wide variety of natures expressed in humanity, and each needs to be looked at individually in order to answer the question.

This is not as hopeless as it sounds. A basic understanding of the 12 archetypes of Jungian psychology would be a good start, but realize that not all of these “human natures” would want to play poker.

It’s nice to see someone showing some interest in the game as a game and not as a series of unconnected hands. Studying hands in isolation is fine, but it won’t necessarily show you the best way to approach the game as a whole.

I’ve been playing with this for some time now. My goal is to gain PsyEQ, which I would define as an edge gained by understanding the psychological makeup of your opponents.

Is someone playing above their bankroll a “hero,” seeking to master risk in order to prove their worth through bold and courageous action, or a “magician” looking to control their environment through a solid understanding of the nuances of the game, or are they a “jester,” seeking full enjoyment of the moment with little regard for the future?

It sounds a lot like you’re parodying my response to the thread someone else started asking about momentum.

Which, I think is pretty apt, considering that “momentum” is basically a type of psychological edge. So, well played, sir.

My point in the “momentum” thread was that the probability of the cards being dealt over a series of hands are disconnected, and the probabilities of what happens in one hand have nothing to do with what happens in the next, from the standpoint of what order the cards happen to be in after a shuffle.

What is connected in the series is the players mental states, habits, skills, perceptions, etc. whatever you want to call it, let’s just call it their psychology. Which does get influenced by hands and outcomes, despite our best efforts otherwise.

So if you wanna talk about “momentum” in that sense, I’m all for it. As I said then, it’s not in the cards. It’s in people’s perceptions and mental state. And it’s better understood when different terms other than “momentum” are used, because “momentum” has no power to explain anything.

So anyway, I do (and did) agree with you on those things, only preferring a more accurate analysis and vocabulary to understand it. But I think you knew that.

In this thread, I’m thinking specifically about the pscyhological edge that may accompany (or not) playing outside of your usual stakes level. There’s a lot of factors potentially at play, and they can work for or against either the player who’s “slumming” at low stakes looking for fish they can easily beat, or for or against the player who’s moving up to stakes that their bankroll may not be ready for, but who might have the skills necessary to do well, provided they can find the confidence and perform under pressure.

I’m looking for your thoughts, as well as those of others.

I’ve been playing HU SNGs for most of the summer, and it’s been interesting. At times when I can’t find a player at 100k, I’ll sometimes see a player waiting at 2k, 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, and I’ll jump in without a second’s thought, because to me the stakes are throwaway. I put in as much preflop on a ring table some nights, so it’s literally nothing to me to fold those hands on the flop if I don’t like the board texture, and I can dump the entire game if I felt like it and it wouldn’t mean a thing to me from a bankroll management standpoint.

Usually I can win these small stakes games easily. Fish are fish. Once in a while a low-ranked player will give me a surprisingly good game, and if I don’t give them credit because I think they are probably not very experienced, or else not very good if they have <100k in their bankroll, I may be surprised. But usually not. And when I am, it’s absolutely worth the 2-10k of valueless chips that I paid for the privilege of being outplayed by them.

Conversely, I’ve moved up in stakes very slowly, only after spending a long time at my current “comfortable” stakes level. When I’ve moved up, at first it seemed scary. Am I ready? Will these players eat me alive? Can I stand to lose in one game what I used to win in 3 or 4? But it doesn’t take very long, and I eventually feel comfortable again. But at first I feel like I have to play perfect if I’m going to win, and of course, that’s a loaded notion full of trouble. What do I mean by that anyway? Being extra tight and nitty? No; nits do not play perfect poker, they play nit poker. I don’t know what I mean, I just mean I can’t afford to make a single mistake. Of course, many of the mistakes we make, we don’t ever realize. But at first, that extra-concentration and focus that I put into the games does seem to help me win. Eventually, though, I relax and just play my game my way, successfully sometimes, less so other times.

It was like this when I moved up from 10k SNG to 25k, and when I made the “big” leap from 25k to 100k. I feel as comfortable at 100k now as I did at 25k a year and a half ago. I do well enough at 100k, and if I want to I can play 250k SNG tables and not feel like it’s any different for me. Just a slightly bigger payout when I cash. I feel like, if I were properly bankrolled, perhaps I could play at any stakes level, against whomever, and hold my own. But I’m sure if I sat in at a 10M table with 1/3 of my bankroll which has taken me almost 2 years to build, I’d be super uptight about not taking more chips back from the table than I came in with. I wouldn’t be able to play with that same, relaxed feeling that I can when I’m risking less than 1% of my bankroll. But would that necessarily be a bad thing? Would it make me play better or worse?

I think it’s not just a question of “would I play better with more at stake” but also “what are the differences in the play that I may run into at higher stakes, and how quickly can I make the necessary adjustments to play profitably?” Not knowing how players may play differently at the next level, I think, is one of the bigger contributors to the anxiety that accompanies stepping up to that level.

Having seen some hands replayed from tables where people are sitting on a few hundred million chips, I see some plays that I just can’t comprehend making myself.

On the other hand, I might be able to comprehend myself making them, one day.

I might have gotten closer very recently. I played a good player in a 50k game, called a 3BB raise with 54o, and flopped into a straight draw, which filled on the Turn, an 8. The card filled a set of 888s for my opponent, who raised my pot-size bet, and I jammed, he called, and fortunately the straight held up and I won the game in one hand. I still feel it was a slightly idiotic call (I had the idiot end of the straight after all) but in a HU game, often you’re fine getting it all in with top pair, at least when the effective stacks are very short. A year and a half ago, I don’t think I could have made this play. I would have folded the 54o from the SB rather than put in 0.5BB to see a flop with it. With 100BB deep stacks, I was willing to play it, and it won me a game in one hand.

A couple of weeks ago I tried a 1M game and won it in one hand, shoving KK into AA and rivering KKK. You know the one, I posted it on the NH Thread a few weeks back. I was lucky as hell to win that, but what surprised me about it wasn’t that I sucked out and cracked Aces with Kings, but that I was as comfortable making that play at a 1M buy-in game as I would have been in a 100k game.

I’m not consistently at this level ever day, but the days when I am seem to be coming more numerous as I continue to study the game and practice.

No, my responce was not parody at all. If we want to know “how” someone will respond to a given situation, it’s useful to know “why” they have put themselves into that position in the first place. Knowing the why can help us predict the how.

You may have read some of my posts on “head games” and “range distortion,” which both attack my opponent’s ability to gather meaningful information on how I am approaching the game, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that I am also looking at ways to better understand how my opponents approach the game.

Why re-invent the wheel? Jung boiled it down to 12 archetypes, and if these each have their own motivations and goals, it should be possible to apply his model to the poker community. I’m only a few weeks into my “research,” so only time will tell, but I think it’s worth looking at.

Anyway, what I am saying is that there isn’t a single answer to your question, but there also aren’t an infinite number of answers. So, if we ask, for example, “How does playing above one’s bank affect their play?” We might find 3 or 4 valid answers, each dependent on why they are playing above their bank in the first place.

Oddly, this is an interesting question.

I can answer from personal experience having climbed the levels very quickly (and I’m not just talking about this site where being fake money the speech applies relatively).

We assume that it is difficult to find two perfectly even players. This is especially true in heads-up, where the exploiting part is prevalent.

So not only the player’s technical ability (such as the management of ranges) counts, but much more the ability to adapt to the opponent. And in this case, the perception of bankroll management can play a role.

Practically speaking, being money-scared is a problem as is “being bored” of playing too low limits. However, a more aggressive approach given by boredom can have positive effects on money-scared players.

In any case, it is difficult to perfectly understand these dynamics because certainly the variance in cases of similar skills affects much more than these marginal psychological aspects.

I personally believe that the player with the largest bankroll has an advantage over the nitty, especially if he plays with the knowledge that the nitty is money-scared.

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I think assuming someone will be playing scared or overly nitty just because they are playing above their bank is a mistake. The fact that they are doing it sort of shows they aren’t that afraid. Likewise, assuming someone playing down is just “bored” is equally unfounded.

I see 3 or 4 reasons someone would play above their bank, and only 1 of the 4 might be “scared money.”

A player might not know or understand bank management. This could be an indication of a “devil may care” recklessness typical of the Jester archetype.

A player might understand but ignore bank management, and have a romanticized notion of slaying the dragon of variance through sheer grit and determination. This is typical of the Hero archetype. Note that most Medals of Honor are handed to the family rather than being pinned on someone’s chest.

A player may think they have a big enough skill advantage to overcome the disadvantages of being short banked. This would be the way a Magician archetype would think.

None of these types would be playing scared.

But the player might also chafe at being limited to the lower stakes and decide to “check out” a game they can’t afford. Such a player may be motivated to go where they please in order to better understand who they are and their place in the skill hierarchy. This would be the Explorer archetype, and they might well play scared.

The point is that there aren’t any simple, “one size fits all” answers. The more we know about our opponents, the better we can make the correct adjustments. Oversimplification can be counter-productive.

I quite agree that assumptions are generally mistakes. But I’m still curious about what assumptions people in general are more likely to make.

I’m inclined to make certain assumptions that tend to be upheld by my experience. My experience is not everyone’s, so I wonder if they are prone to making the same assumptions, or different ones.

I’m not looking for The Universal Truth of how all players play when playing outside their usual comfort zone, I’m looking for how someone external to the player may tend to view such a decision.

I agree there are a variety of motivations and types of people, and no one answer fits every case. But the answer a person gives reveals something about them.

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@El-Jogador, thanks, I think it is an interesting question as well. Not so much for the answer, but for the insights you get by observing how others try to answer it.

You mentioned climbed up the levels here quickly – how did you climb levels quickly? Ring play, I would assume? Did you come in to the site already knowing how to play, or did you have to learn as you went here? How did you learn?

Back on topic, I think one advantage that is real, not just psychological, is that the bigger bankroll player can afford to lose more, and thus can bet more aggressively without as much fear of being called when bluffing, since they don’t necessarily care if they get called, and if they do lose a big pot, can often afford to run the same bet again with a strong hand that will win what was temporarily lost in the bluff. And if they lose again, they can repeat more times, enduring a slide longer, and eventually recover. It may not matter in a 1-off HU match, but over a series of matches, it does, since the lower-bankroll player can’t afford to lose as many games.

And example of this, I will occasionally see someone sitting at a 100k SNG table with nearly all of their bankroll, waiting for an opponent. I’ll always hit them if I see them, and I usually win. If I lose, they’ve doubled their money. If I see them again, I probably get it right back, and if I see them a third time, they will often go broke, and then I don’t see them again.

The other night, I played a player who was sitting at a 5k 2-seat SNG table with with most of his bankroll. I sat in, and he played surprisingly well, caught a couple of strong hands, and managed to win our first game. A few minutes later I saw him sitting at a 10k HU SNG game, joined again, and cleaned him out in the rematch.

This made an absolutely negligible difference to my bankroll, and was from that standpoint, a waste of time, but I did enjoy the games, especially the revenge rematch. I have no idea how he felt at the table, or if he checked my rank, or if he cared. Me, it was a decently engaging game, but I was able to play very relaxed because of the negligible stakes.

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No one really has an edge in each game if they are evenly match. If Hero is indeed evenly matched then having a much higher bankroll than a low rank Hero is a good gamble for the rich Villain. Its not a bad gamble for the lower ranked Hero BUT its not profitable long term and can be risky. If a lower ranked Hero does indeed play a higher ranked Villain ignoring Bankroll Management then there is a chance Hero will get hurt bad or go busto.

Edge really isn’t the right word when its “evenly matched.” Its an ok gamble for Villain and its a riskier gamble for Hero Bankroll wise.

Your basically asking to flip for dough. Evenly matched = flipping. Do you like to flip? There are worse scenarios but I personally don’t like to flip for large chunks of free play chips. Sometimes its necessary & unavoidable especially in MTTs or SnGs.

Take control: Flip a rigged coin, flip where Hero does have an edge. Avoid flipping to break even, its not profitable. Strategically pick profitable spots or be happy to flip & break even take away rake.

As a side note if Hero is playing scared money then its not evenly matched. Hero should be strategically looking for games to beat. IF Hero wants to play games they can’t beat to improve skill & learn then play lower stakes where lost chips is an investment for poker training. If Hero wants to buy chips - then gamble whatever happy to lose.

YES players are rarely evenly matched, even when they think they are. Variance is high in SnG heads up.

This is a psychological trap. Its difficult to know short term how good a player is & say: “we are evenly matched.” Players drastically misunderstand opponents & their own ability. Ego & mental stability is a massive contributing factor to results.

"Understanding" a player might not necessarily give you the edge per say but it will help a lot to improve how to play against them. OFC actually playing against the player helps you to actually understand them BUT you can learn a lot by studying their profile. RP offers very little in understanding a random players skill level. Generally skill level is all that matters. That said over a few games & a couple of hundred hands luck is a major determining factor to results short term.

You can learn a lot about a player by looking at their profile. Players continuously say - and someone said it recently to me: “Rank (bankroll) is meaningless.” I responded not true: “Rank is simply not meaningful. That doesn’t mean its meaningless.” You need to do more than simply look at rank to get a meaningful picture of a player & gain understanding.

You can often tell a lot by looking at a profile as to how a player reached their Rank or won all their chips.

NITs: Some have played for years and slowly grinded up. These are most likely nits. Keep in mind nit is not an offensive or derogatory poker term as some think. I’m loose, passive-aggressive but sometimes the tightest NIT on the table when I think its required. Contrary this some have grinded for years & happy to get it in bad low stakes relative to Bankroll for a chance to win.

Chip buyers: Often difficult to tell from profile alone, but play may be enlightening. They often just regularly get it in bad. Maybe they seem evenly matched? Some players dont buy chips but they have no fear to “get it in bad” or simply just hero call for no intelligent reason. Chip buyers or Get Lucky players can be high ranked.

After a few games you should be able to tell an opponents general skill level, but it will take time to get an accurate picture. Play the player, not just the cards & not the Bankroll.

Summary: No one has the edge as stated by “evenly matched.” I think the difference your trying to understand is psychological advantage. This “advantage” or incorrectly called “edge” based on Bankroll is an illusion or mirage - a Psychological Trap.

I’ve seen it many times where very good players overestimate their ability and underestimate their opponents and try to bluff/bully with chips. It usually happens with higher ranked players against lower ranked players that they underestimate, BUT it also happens in the opposite way too.

Play the actual player not the perceived player/Bankroll. Play games you can beat & learn and understand when you actual have an edge or are edged out. Learn to master emotions & the Psychology of poker.

I can show you many interesting high stakes hands to illustrate this point of Player Vs Player Psychological warfare that ended in tragedy.

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Thank you - needed that. :smiley:

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Thanks for sharing, Dogs.

I think you should understand, when I say “evenly matched” I mean “otherwise evenly matched in all other important aspects”. It’s a hypothetical thought experiment.

Of course in the real world everyone’s different enough that no two people are exactly alike, and this results in some kind of mismatch somewhere, where, if you can figure it out, and figure out how to exploit it, will give you an edge.

But imagine you could take a copy of yourself from a parallel universe, where you have 10x as much bankroll, or 1000x as much. You don’t know you’re playing an exact clone of yourself, because you’re playing online and there’s no way to establish this. You just know your opponent has way more chips in their bankroll than you do, because that information is shared.

They can’t actually bring those extra chips into the game you’re playing; it’s the usual stakes you typically play. Do you play this guy any differently than you would anyone else? Typical opponents you face have similar size bankrolls to you; do you presume that huge bankroll players are more advanced and play differently? Do you play scared? Or do you play more focused, and more determined to make careful, correct choices, and outplay your opponent? Do you not think about their bankroll size at all?

What do you think the typical player does in this situation?

And flip it around, if you’re the big bankroll player, when you see someone at the low stakes tables with a low bankroll, and you sit in with them because what else are you going to do with yourself – do you expect the game to be soft and easy? Or do you expect your opponent to be geared up and looking to play their best game against a fearsome opponent?

Flip it around again, if you’re the low bankroll player and you play above your advisable stakes level against players who are comfortable being there, would you play better, worse, or no differently? If you chunked down 50% of your bankroll at a table where that’s only a 100BB stack, and everyone else at the table has 1000x as many chips off the table, but otherwise they have the same 100BB, how do you fare? Do they play the same game as you? Do you feel like you need to make any adjustments? Do you feel comfortable?


Generally speaking both good & bad players make poor adjustments and often play worse because they emotionally misinterpret information like bankroll or presumption of players skill level. I do this too but I try to quickly adjust my understanding based on the experience of play.

Daniel Negreanu when he played on GSN High Stakes poker played particularly badly especially against the amateurs IMO bc he was distracted by Bankroll & skill comparisons. He bought in for 1 million Vs everyone else at 200K if memory is correct. He expected to bully, outplay & run the table over. He made some terrible massive overbets on the flop with strong starting cards & got ZERO value expecting & hoping that the amateurs were going to DONK call weak hands & pay him off. He got really bad luck every season but he also pushed his luck too.

I’ve played similarly very bad (low stakes) against lower ranked players & had much higher ranked players play against me very badly too. A very large reason, IMO is care factor.

I’ve seen very high ranked players on RP do this. I’ve done this myself many times myself. Its a psychological trap, to assume Rank = Poker Competency or skill level. I’ve also made very good decisions in my play, made good adjustments and used exploits because I was able to analyse data/information intelligently & correctly and understand the player better.

Recently I did well on a 6MAX 500/1k ring Vs at least 1 Villain that had over 5 times my bankroll. When he arrived I had about 350BB and ended up with over 800BB & then lost about 200BB. I made the presumption that he was a decent player and gave him too much respect. The table was decent but as per typical on RP a group of fairly passive, calling stations. I was the most active & aggressive pre flop. I was getting decent luck, raising many hands, very occasionally limping and folding a fair bit. Villain felt completely the opposite about me and gave me very little respect. He called my 4Bet pre flop with Q9o and after I bet the flop he shoved all in with top pair to lose his stack. Villain was clearly irritated by the fact I kept raising pre flop & he often 3Bet me. It was pretty obvious he was often 3Betting light or stupidly lucky.

One big hand I lost was AJ Vs KQ. I raised AsJd & Villain 3Bet with KQ, I decided to call & see a flop. This was a mistake & I should have 4Bet against this player but I had too much respect. Most players on RP don’t 3Bet light at MED stakes. He certainly wasnt a total maniac player but he almost certainly was 3Betting light often and getting it in bad often. Flop came AdKsQs. I checked Villain bet, I raised and Villain shoves. I fairly quickly call to see the bad news 2pair KQ. I didn’t get lucky & Villain won about 200BB. I didn’t hate my flop play but I think it was weak not to 4Bet AJo against this loose player. I think Villain can have many bluffs on the flop and some draws like KT, QT AT and flush draws. I didn;t really mind doubling him up, but I would have prefered to have done so 4Betting and playing optimally,

After this loss I fairly quickly retired & left the table. I was confident I was a much better player but I had a lot more to lose than Villain. If I sat there for another hour or 2 most likely I would have won a lot more BUT I decided not to take the risk & continue. Villain was happy to gamble & I’m sure would have comfortably lost 800K without a worry at all.

Ring is much different to SnG or MTT. I would have happily played this player all day in HU SnG but in ring I didnt want to take the risk.

Do I play this player differently? Not really but I did decide to leave because they were so willing to gamble so much. The risk to my Bankroll is significant, but the risk for Villain is a drop in a bucket if they constantly lose their stack. Yes I presumed they were a better player than they actually were bc of Bankroll. I was aware that I wasn’t playing my A game so decided to leave. At these stakes I don’t feel totally comfortable. So I certainly I dont play my best.

At lower stakes I think I would play better Vs this Villain and more profitably.

I would never play at a table & lose 50% of my Bankroll, so its difficult to answer that hypothetical question. If I was playing with a massive chunk of my BR on the table I basically play like a NIT and fold a lot, raise a few hands aggressively, play position & bluff where I can, limp if its sometimes possible and slow play where I think it might me profitable.

At stakes I’m very comfortable at 4 or 6 MAX: My play style is loose aggressive. Most players are very easy to TILT & irritate with aggression which often results in Villain putting chips in really badly. You can usually tell what you can and cant get away with fairly quickly. Sometimes i’ll play basically every hand, raise most, cBet almost 100% & bluff a lot. If certain players are calling stations ill change my strategy a lot & adapt. Most players lower stakes will be almost entirely ineffective at countering aggression.

At lower stakes I’ll sometimes play really badly & DONK off my chips. Im not deliberately playing bad Im just making virtually no effort to play good bc I dont care. Most of the time i’m trying to win regardless of stakes but sometimes I really dont care at all if I lose.


Thank you matey…good wisdom to play by. Know when to walk away to fight another day. Gathering intel on the way. Sometimes one needs to go across lines they wouldn’t normally cross if they know it will expose the Villain. :smiley:

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So let’s flip this around. Trying to guess what the “average” player will do is like trying to predict what happens after you die… nobody can know.

But I do know me. I have 50M chips, only play tournaments, and my favorites are 20K buyin NLHE MTTs. From this, what do you assume about how I will approach the game? Why do you think I like 20K tournies?

Since I know the answers to these questions, it will be a good test of your theoretical model.

Love to you SPG - I believe a good player no matter stakes low or high is flexible enough to not care and play their best game because they play the table and the players and their hand always…they are experienced watchers, they are experienced at reading the play and adjust their strategy, willing to re evaluate, re assess, re adjust all their plays to suit each situation presented to them. They have what high stakes never have - patience and ready to change game play at a minutes noticed - dismissing planned play as soon as they see a potential loss if they continue, the high stakes always has their main focus on winning…huge mistake. Dollar signs putting clouds in their coffee - know thy enemy. The more the high stakes push - the more info, intel the low players gain. Playing poker is a bit like being in a spy movie. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I’m not sure what I would think. I can’t roll back all the history I have with you from reading your forum posts and seeing you play and decide what my first impression would be at this point.

Since you say you play mostly MTT, in a MTT, I’m less focused on individual players, and more on playing good fundamental poker than I am targeting a specific opponent for exploitation. So having a cold read on you isn’t super important, anyway.

I guess if I took a generic read approach to a newly encountered player, I’d consider a few factors:

  • user name/profile pic: may give clues as to their personality
  • where they’re from: probably not much here, but i like to see if someone’s from a country i’ve never seen playing on here before. If I know what time of day it is in their part of the world, it may tell me something about how serious they are about playing. Not that it’s terribly reliable but people who play during the morning hours on a weekday typically aren’t casuals.
  • age/sex: doesn’t really tell you much by itself, but it seems like the typical player on this site is older, often retirement age. Women players seem to be a minority, but those who do play tend to know what they’re doing, so I tend to give the women a little more credit for knowing how to play if they’re here at all. Age has less to do with how good you are than experience does, but the older a person is, the more experience they can have, and the more they may have learned from it. But also, there is a stereotype that younger players are more aggressive and can be more impulsive, more emotional, while old players are more cautious, tighter, less easily rattled.
  • I don’t pay attention to race. Most of the time you can’t tell what race someone is, anyway. Unless they’re signaling national/ethnic/racial pride.
  • Rank/bankroll: again, not reliable, but it gives me a little info to go on. It can be misleading, but generally the higher the bankroll, and the older the account, the more I can believe that they may actually be a pretty good player. Sometimes this will lead me to over- or under-rate a player. But not usually. Although it doesn’t really tell me what style of play to expect out of them.
  • if they’ve written anything in their profile, I might take time to digest it at some point. Most people don’t provide much tho.

It’s less that I decide who the player is before we start playing, and then bank on those assumptions, and more that I take a quick assessment of these factors listed above, and tell myself to look for indicators that further corroborate a story. I get a better impression out of the first 3-4 hands than I do from the above, but the above factors help me to form that impression. And I have an even better impression after 30 hands, or 100, or 1000. Which, I mean, that’s obvious.

Revealing the above really tells you more about what kind of person I am than anything. If someone read the above and thought “Now I know how to read a person based on these general attributes” that would be the wrong way to use this information. If you read it and think, “Now I have an idea of how puggywug looks at the world” it would be a narrower, but at least useful within that scope, piece of information to put away somewhere, if you thought it might be relevant. Which, if we play each other, maybe it would be.

In HU play, it’s very different from MTT. It’s all about your opponent, and how they play. You’re in every hand, you can’t sit through an orbit when you’re getting cold cards and wait for a strong hand. You can’t dodge an opponent you can’t figure out and hope someone else knocks them out, or they get re-balanced to a new table. Knowing your opponent definitely helps in MTT play as well, but it’s more critical in HU play. Of course, in poker, most hands will come down to a 2-person showdown anyway, so skill in HU play can be applicable in most games.

Against players that I’ve played before, I take into account our history and how I’ve seen them play against me.

Against players I haven’t played before, or haven’t played in a while, I try to get a measure for how they will play as quickly as possible. Profile info helps, a little, tiny bit, perhaps.

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Well, I’m really suggesting that you change the focus of your question. Instead of asking people to guess why others might do this or that, ask them why they do it. You would probably get more useful data. Ask…

If you are playing above your bank, how does this affect your play?

If you play well below your bank, how does it affect your play?

Just a thought, but it might give you insights you can use. OK, you would want to design the questions with more care, but you get the point.

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Ah, but I think people answer differently for themselves than they project onto others.

People see themselves as protagonists.

Ask someone what they would do in a situation that calls for heroism, a lot of the time they’ll tell you they would do what a movie action hero would do.

Ask them what they think someone typically would do, you often get a truer answer.

I hear political polls ask who they’re voting for, but also who they think their neighbors will vote for. It’s interesting to see how they answer and how it correlates to the actual election results.


I found a random player that had nearly 50M chips, joined in July 2020 that was playing 1/2 Duck Pond. Their biggest pot was about 9K. What would you think after looking through this account?

For me it was very confusing & I didn’t learn a great deal at all from it. I could assume this player bought some chips to contribute to Bankroll to play 1/2 stakes? Seems a little strange?

Is it possible to grind 50M chips in 3 months playing 1/2 stakes?

Most profiles tell a fairly simple story. Current Bankroll, Biggest Pots Won, time played on RP etc. This doesnt necessarily tell a great deal but in addition to observing how they play it can help paint a picture and IMO often helps me play better against Villain.

Based on profile, stakes played, Rank etc and the way the player plays I can tell how much they want to gamble. I played a game with one player that was ranked top 500, played for years on RP and was obviously a casual passive grinder. He was playing very conservative stakes for his rank. He checked the river IP with AAATT fh on a board where only a strait flush or royal or AAAQQ could beat him. He won a small pot with a strong hand.

Personally I take a fairly conservative line with how much of my bankroll I risk. I don’t even have a Bankroll Management Plan. I mostly just play for fun.

No. Knowing their motivations/incentives for playing would but not their bankroll (especially not on a play chip site). For every deviation from sound strategy, there is an exploit. So, if you observe someone playing looser than they should (you ascribed this to someone playing below their bankroll), increase your value range and betting sizes and decrease bluffs. Take the opposite approach for someone you observe being especially nitty. This holds true for ring games and tournaments.

Bankroll by itself tells you almost nothing. Someone with a huge bankroll may just have sat around for years being a nit and putting in a lot of volume. Someone else may have decided to see how fast they can spin it up and is running well. There may be people who have done a combination of both. Some play for recreation and some play for practice. Some are old-school and some have learned the game from a more modern approach. No matter how they arrived at their bankroll, they may be in a different mode for the game they are currently playing. Even people who take the game more seriously sometimes feel the need to blow off steam or experiment with something new.

The bottom line is that solid fundamental play is the foundation of success for any game you enter. Specific deviations (exploits) from that foundation should be based on observations, not assumptions. Sure, there are some general assumptions you can make about populations and incorporate into your general strategy. When trying to tailor your game to play a specific opponent, nothing substitutes for your in-game observations. Pay attention to hands they showdown with and how they arrived there. Take meaningful notes. Learn how to best exploit what you observe. This is harder work than making blanket assumptions but its also the way to make the most money/chips.

On one of the televised poker series, someone once complained that “you can’t bluff a billionaire”. One of the smarter commentators replied “so don’t try. Just value-own them”.