When playing in a tournament or cash game one key to success is having the ability to mix it up. If you’re playing style becomes known to someone at your table you will soon find yourself on the other end of a very short stack. For example let’s take a look at Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, here is a guy that you would say never mixes it up, always stone-faced, takes a measured pause before each and every poker decision, and never deviates from this seemingly dull style of play, right? Wrong, Chris Ferguson is a player who really understands mixing it up. His style or approach to playing each hand is another level of security to his mastery of the game. Although it can seem predictable and repeatable at times it is just the opposite, no matter what two starting cards he gets dealt he plays them in the exact same manner, you never know if he is holding AA or 72 off suit. This discipline helps a player like Chris really mix it up. Most inexperienced players will play AA or AK the same way every time they get it, for that matter they will play every two hole cards the same way every time.
Here is an example of how NOT mixing it up can hurt you in the end. Okay so you’re a pretty good player and you would consider your type of play to be “Tight Aggressive,” this means that you only play good hands and when you do play them you are very aggressive. So far so good, you’ll get no arguments from me, this seems like a pretty solid approach to the game. So you’ve been playing in an online 25$ NL cash game now for about 45 minutes at your favorite online poker site and you’ve been doing very well, in just 45 minutes you’ve doubled your chip stack from 25$ to roughly 50$. You have been getting dealt a lot of AK, AQ, and KQ so you have been involved in a number of flops and showdowns. You’ve been playing aggressive by raising before and after the flop, your aggressive play has also rewarded you when you haven’t hit anything on the flop by out betting your opponents. So the next hand gets dealt to and you can’t believe it but you’ve been dealt AK unsuited again. The flop comes out 10s-7d-5h, you put in your usual aggressive bet before and after the flop of 4$ each and to your surprise you get a caller.