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Your table image is temporary. Your Poker hands reputation is permanent…kind of.

There’s a guy in our home-game that used to play tighter than anybody. Ever. In the world.

His blinds were easy money and you could always bluff him if the Flop came low. And you could always dodge his monsters when the Flop came high. If he didn’t get the holding cards, he didn’t make the bubble. Simple.

Turns out he went on to become a dealer in the local casino and after a few months, hopped on a cruise ship to run blackjack for a year. When he returned, we had a celebratory home-game and, frankly, he owned.

He was still tight but he defended his blinds, he shoved more often and his hand range changed depending on position. We were foolish, running into his tricks because we still thought he had none. We still had him down as a nit and, to a degree, we still have that perception of him today…we just now know he’s a good nit.

Sometimes he plays like our old, pre-cruise fish. And other times, he plays like our new, post-cruise shark. He’s learning, like the rest of us, but he is still that same guy and it will always be tempting to steal his blinds.

My point is, his reputation for well played Poker games has kind of stayed the same but his table-image varies per session.

A message from a pro

Last month, Team PKR’s Sofia Lövgren blogged about a cheeky bluff against a guy called Jesus, at the Venetian in Las Vegas (true story).

Jesus had Aces and she booted him out on the River after betting smart. We’ll run through the hand in a minute but just so you know – Lövgren put her triumph down to table image:

“Jesus looked frustrated about folding, but said "nice hand, nice hand". The other guys at the table were convinced I had a set. I didn't show my hand, I almost never do, but was more convinced than ever that image is everything.” 

Here’s how the situation played out…

Loose table, Sofia’s sitting on a healthy stack of about 200 big blinds and she’s in the cut-off position. Jesus is just to her left on the button, sitting on a similar sized stack.

Sofia picks up J/8 (spades) and open-raises to $20. Jesus re-raises to $65 and everyone else ducks.

Flops comes Q (spades), 9, 7. Sofia’s looking at a gut-shot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. She checks.

Jesus bets out with $70 and Sofia calls.

Turn comes a 6 (spades). Sofia’s just another spade away from her flush and a 5 on the River would give her a low-end straight. She quizzes Jesus on his stack size and he seems a bit uneasy when answering.

Sofia’s predatory senses kick in. She knows she has the tightest image at this table and so she puts down a min-raise of $300. It’s a semi-bluff – she wants Jesus to fold but his call won’t be so bad given her outs.

He thinks about it for a while before calling. Sofia puts him on a monster pair.

River comes an 8.

Feeling that this is a decent card to continue he bluff, Sofia looks at her hand and ‘Hollywoods’ for a while before shipping all in.

Jesus pretty much snap-folds his Aces and Sofia wins.

Is image everything?

So, we know Lövgren puts this down to image but do you think it was her tight image that really shook Jesus off this hand?

Could it be argued Jesus played it all wrong and should have re-raised on the Turn to really find out if Sofia had a run? By the time the River comes, maybe he’s folding all day to an all-in – no matter what Lövgren’s image is.

Now, I don’t know Jesus and I don’t know Lövgren. I’ve also never played at the Venetian in Vegas. But I do know a lot of players who share Lövgren’s view that image is everything and might have pulled this move themselves.

Then again, I know players who believe it’s the cards that are everything and image doesn’t matter at all – especially online.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re not already a major star, then your player reputation won’t really follow you around online (contrary to how my buddy’s rep shadows him in the home-game).

And I guess that’s one of the great things about playing Poker on a site like PKR - you’re free to mix up your table image and ‘be somebody new’ in every game.

What do you think? All comments are welcome.