There are all kinds of ways of playing poker, and all kinds of ways to present that may work to your advantage – or not, as the case may be. Sometimes though, you find yourself up against an opponent who seems to be completely unpredictable and as such is difficult to figure out. The likelihood is that they’re either a really good player or a really bad one. But which is it? And how can you avoid getting caught out by an unexpected move?

Stay cool

The most important thing to remember when faced by an unpredictable poker player is to stay calm and cool. Don’t get ruffled, and remember that patience is a virtue. There’s no point in risking everything when you need to manage your pot to stay in the game.

Unpredictability can be used as a strategy to throw opponents off balance. Whether a player seems to be going all in and making large bets seemingly at random, going to the river or folding unexpectedly, the main advantage of this technique is that it leaves the other players unsettled and not thinking clearly. Don’t let this happen to you!

Get your bearings

Even an unpredictable player can be read. As the game progresses, try to watch their style of play and behavior with the eye of the uninvolved spectator. Are they being predictably unpredictable, or are they just making the occasional out-of-character move? In other words, is their whole style of play based on being wild and crazy, or are they someone you had pegged as a different type of player who, every once in a while, does something that doesn’t seem to fit their profile?

If the former seems to be the case then you can form a strategy to deal with them, based on the understanding that they are going to continue playing recklessly. The latter example is much more interesting and also harder to deal with. A generally conservative player who sometimes takes a major risk is a player that deserves to be treated with respect and caution.

Weigh up the risks

A player that randomly goes all in could be bluffing; they could have a really good hand; or they could have a hand that isn’t as good as they think it is. You have to weigh up the risks involved in challenging them. In this position, the safest move is to fold, unless you have a really excellent hand yourself.

It’s often easier to think clearly when playing for real money at an NJ online casino where at least you’re slightly removed from the action, playing at home or on your phone. Free games and bonuses can also take the sting out of folding, meaning there’s less pressure to play on. Sat round a table with other players, there is more pressure to not lose face, and so you might feel compelled to play on regardless. This is usually just what your opponent is hoping for.

Overall, the best advice is to tighten up your game, play it safe and stay calm. Be patient, and be prepared to sit out a few hands while you get the measure of your opponent. Genuinely reckless players often burn out quickly. Then you can move back in for some serious fun.