When playing poker, even free online poker, it is important, fundamental even, to know as much about your opponent as possible.
Playing free poker online, micro stake cash games and freerolls, tends to bunch players into one of four categories. The quicker you are able to establish which player type you are up against, the quicker you can adopt your tactics for that particular type.
Almost all players fall into one of the following four groups; The Rock, the maniac, the calling station or ATM which is a nickname I use as these guys are a licence to print money, and lastly The Pro. This article will concentrate on the rock.
A rock is by definition reliable, dependable, steady, secure, and stable. All these adjectives apply to the player known as the rock. They are very tight, even tighter out of position and have a very narrow selection of cards they will play, on average they will play less than 12% of hands.
These hands are obviously AA, KK, QQ, JJ and also include pretty much any combination of face/Broadway cards, low pocket pairs and sometimes suited connectors in position with a limp.
The rock is a very basic level 1 player who plays extremely honestly and will hardly ever bluff. A big bet from a rock almost always equals a big hand, the kind of hand they will be willing to shove with if pushed to. A rock will also seldom fight back against a three bet.
So, after you have been at the table long enough to mark someone as a rock (which shouldn’t take to long) you now have to play in a manner which will extract the most value from him or her. The main thing to always bear in mind when playing a rock is that you don’t have to take long on your decisions; these guys will tell you what hand they have themselves.
Let’s think about a rock away from the poker table.
If you wanted to remove a big rock from your garden for example what would be the best way? You wouldn’t try and pick the whole thing up in one go as you may hurt yourself, what you are more likely to do is break it up into small pieces and shovel it into a skip, and this is how we will remove the rock from the poker table, bit by bit. We will chip away at them with small raises, especially in position.
We will constantly be stealing their blinds with a massive range, almost any two cards. This works great in the later stages of a tournament when the blinds are bigger and you approach the bubble.
A rock isn’t a great post flop player, they either hit or miss in their own mind set (level 1 remember). We should also be looking to take pot control lines, and flat calling in position with suited connectors provides us with great implied odds.
There are a few things you shouldn’t be doing against rocks and these clearly include playing big pots with weak hands, like one pair. Playing hands that are easily dominated against a rock’s range can also be a big problem.
If you remember back to the type of hands I referred to that are in a rock’s range, then you will realise hands like AJ, A9, KJ, and Q10 are all in bad shape. Another thing to consider is, firing double barrel bluffs don’t work, these guys don’t play cabbage.
To recap, when playing against a marked rock (and take time before you mark someone into a particular grouping, three or four folds does not equate to someone being a rock, you need to see a number of hands and watch how they react to their own blinds and when they have position) always have in the front of your mind I am playing basic micro stakes or free online poker. A raise means a decent hand, a check means I have something I will fold. Avoid big pots with rocks, use your shovel and chip away.