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Mixing It Up
by Scott Fischman

One of my favorite things about poker is that it is sort of an organized chaos. There is always an element of chance, which makes it unpredictable and keeps players on their toes. Every game is unique and the same exact sequence of events will never be repeated. This element of change is something that players can and should use to their advantage. Every time you sit down at a table, you start fresh. You can be anyone you want to be. Sizing up the opponents at your table should be the first thing you do, before you have even fully taken your seat. Determine the best table image to project in order to maximize your success. This has been a bit more difficult for me recently, since people tend to recognize me and instantly go to their preconceived image of me, so I have begun to mix it up for myself. One day I might wear a hat or sunglasses, and the next I’ll be sporting a full beard — whatever I need to do to put myself in the right frame of mind.

In order for me to stay interested and keep my game sharp, I like to play a variety of games. Even though no-limit hold’em is the most popular game at the moment and the one I play most often in major tournament settings, I really enjoy playing all the games. I would advise all card players to explore the other games, as it can only help your skills overall.

Online poker has become a vital and valuable tool in keeping myself interested and my game fresh. Playing online allows me to play multiple games on multiple sites simultaneously — talk about needing to stay alert! The variety of games and limits available at the touch of a button gives players ample opportunity to experiment. Being free to try new styles and strategies is essential to developing your game, and doing so online is the perfect solution for players who might be hesitant to mix it up in a higher-pressure live setting. I often play in $10 tournaments online because there is no fear to battle. I can try new things and test new theories without money entering into my decision.

The variety of games available online is also a great way to play with all levels of players. Playing a $10 tournament, a $100 tournament and a $1,000 tournament will pretty much expose me to a full spectrum of skill levels. It’s just as important, if not more important, to learn how to play with beginners as it is with pros. To be honest, I think beginners are more dangerous. Here’s a perfect example: Baywatch babe Traci Bingham beat three pros, including me, in a tournament for the Game Show Network’s Poker Royale: Celebrities vs. Pros. That was quite possibly the most frustrating match I have ever been in! It was down to me, Traci, and Lance Bass (of boy band *NSYNC), and I felt completely helpless. Neither of them was an experienced poker player; I had no clue how to read them. It’s hard to figure out what some players are going to do when they don’t know what they are going to do themselves! Long story short, I got third in that match. I guarantee that I was back online that night, playing $5 tournaments to try to figure out the mindset of less experienced players.

I always say, the moment I get tired of playing poker, I will stop. Fortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon! I will continue to mix it up for myself, constantly learning, experimenting, and reinventing my game, which is what I hope you will do.

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