When I first started playing Texas Hold’em me and a few buddies ran out of state to a poker room. In the beginning we had no idea of what we were doing. Heck we knew what poker hands were good and what were not, but we really had no idea what starting hands were good and which ones you should just muck.
We played on gut instinct alone and we did well but as we progressed two of us became better than the rest quickly. We didn’t know what poker tells were nor did we study them. As a matter of fact we didn’t study at all, but we did adapt to the game and we did realize that there are hands you could and couldn’t play. Then we went out and bought a few books which helped make leaps and bounds in our game. (That is at home games at the other tables we seldom did great.) Then we decided to look at a few things that we were doing and we came up with some basic plans, thus our game plan was born.
This was a huge mistake as we now were losing more money and it was a bad choice on our part as we decided to only play certain hands if they were not raised prior to the flop. We basically stuck to this method through thick and thin. Soon we decided that we had to incorporate feel and opponents into our equation. Over time we decided not to have such an inflexible plan. What we decided was to adjust to the players and the environment and lemme tell ya it was like things changed over night.
The first thing about preparing your game plan is the level of competition that you will be playing at. If you are just playing for fun and not for any cash you may not bring your best game. However, if you are playing in a more competitive environment then you will need to put on your game face and be prepared to go to battle.
Second, you need to know what type of game you will be playing in, whether it is loose, tight, aggressive or passive. If it is a loose game you will adjust by playing a few more hands than normal. If the game is more aggressive you will play fewer hands unless they are close or are premium hands in early position. If the game is tight you will need to bluff more and slow play more. If the table is passive you must stop slow playing and be a bit more aggressive. Your goal is to adapt to your table/game conditions and changing your game plan as the table changes.
Last you want to look at players and pay very close attention to them prior to joining the game. Look for the players that model their play after players that have great strategies for the level of play their in, but that lack the knowledge that the players that they are modeling after. They also have tells that you can pick up on and when you do indeed pick these off, take advantage of them as often as you can. Never let them know that they are giving off any signals that give them away. If a particular player is loose, remember to avoid bluffing and slow playing this player. The opposite is also true if a particular player is too tight.
In conclusion, you must understand that this is a guideline that helps you come up with a game plan. YOU need to make sure that this (your gameplan) is flexible because if it isn’t and you don’t change to the conditions you will be allowing your opponents to see and read what you are doing and play accordingly against you.
Remember you need to be flexible and when you are not you will generally lose more by not adapting to the people and the conditions surrounding you.