Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Spotting New Players At The Poker Tables

Played a few hands last night and witnessed a chat-row between a couple of players. Nothing unusual about that – except this time one of the terms being used got me thinking. One player called another while behind and caught up to win, and got barraged with the word 'Newbie' in different formats and combinations... A few of things confused me here:First it was a low buy-in game... in which case should the 'experienced' player not have been the one embarrassed to be there? After all if you are a long-time player and still in this game, then you are probably not very good! Maybe, 'experienced loser' coming from a new player should have been a more appropriate taunt.

Second, well, what is the meaning of this anyway, if the player is a newbie then you just alerted them to the fact they made an error (in this case it was not a huge one anyway). They might well now go and look at the odds situation and stop making this error – the 'villain' just made his game less profitable. Third, the fact that this player got upset and tried to taunt the fish told the rest of the table a few things about him. First that if a reasonably close situation got this reaction they probably do not handle their emotions too well. Second they are unlikely to be very experienced themselves, since, well, you kind of get used to getting in with a small edge after a while and accept the variance. I'll add the thought that kind of player to do this is likely to be a shallow thinker – level 1 tops. They are focused on their hand and the fact it was ahead of a specific opponent holding... not the best way to gain an edge against the range an opponent will be holding and / or what their opponent thinks of their range.

Anyway, the reply from the 'newbie' was great. He only said 2 words in total... 'Bite Me' Brilliant Ok, did not plan an intro that long, the idea that this scenario gave me was to come up with 10 ways of spotting new / inexperienced players at the tables. I should note that any 1 (or 2) of these can be faked by savvy players, so you are ideally looking for combinations!

1) Raise Sizes: After a while we all get dragged into conforming to the standard 2.2x through 3x + 1x for each limper sort of bet sizes. When you see someone open for 5x (or more) or keep going with 3x in the later stages of tournaments, this is a big 'new player' flag.

2) Pictures (where available): Babies and pets are a flag at those sites which allow uploads.

3) OMG! In The Chat: After a while the 80% / 20% or 70% / 30% becomes pretty much normal... A new player might type some amazed comment into the chat 'disgusting', 'rigged' or so on, we soon get used to this!

4) 1 or 2 tables: For those sites with 'find' functions you can check to see how many games are being played at once. After they gain experience, 2 games is too slow!

5) Mixing up the games: Some players might have 3 or 4 tables on the go, a PLO SNG, 8-game cash and 2 multi-table tournaments at hugely different buy-ins... that is a fun player and not a grinder.

6) Every Hand: Many new players will play far too many hands, at the extreme limping in with any 2... Then going through different ranges of 'any ace', any 2 suited and so on.

7) Check-Raising All The Time: Nothing wrong with a check-raise... however, this is the first 'move' new players learn and when they do... every other hand becomes a check-raise opportunity! If you see someone who seems to over-use this then look for some of the other flags here.

8) Flat Calling / Position Errors: Sure, even experienced bad players can make these mistakes... however newer players will flat flat flat... UTG raise, and they are UTG+1, no problem! Flat call time!

9) Berating The Fish: Not the newest of the new, this is more likely to be someone who has just left the completely green behind the ears phase... we should note that experienced players (and particularly multi-tabling grinders) are far less likely to berate, they (unfortunately for the game) still do this... only less!

10) Stack Size Horrors: Raise / Folding with 10BBs, calling 1/3rd of their stack with a draw, getting upset at the end of a SNG / MTT that everyone is playing 'bingo', flatting a small pair without set odds... all clear signs of a new player. Remember that new players are literally the life blood of the online poker economy. If you make sure their experience is a pleasant one they are far more likely to reload!

GL at the tables, Mark

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