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Talking Poker: Changing Gears

David Yan

Each week, the Talking Poker series highlights a particular poker term. We’ll give you a clear, to-the-point definition of the term and an example of the strategic concept to which it refers, so that you can start using the term and implementing the related strategy into your game. This week we will be focusing on changing gears.


Changing gears in poker means changing your style of play.


In a cash game, Hero has been playing very aggressively. He has been raising and three-betting preflop with a very high frequency. Players at his table notice this tendency and begin to limp-reraise and four-bet him. Hero then decides to play tighter since his opponents are adjusting. He changes gears.

Strategic Considerations

Changing gears is important in poker because the less predictable you are with your play, the harder it is for your opponents to play against you.

There are several factors that would indicate that it is time to change gears. Often (though not always), you want play opposite of the way the table is playing. If everyone at your table is playing loose and aggressive, it is going to be advantageous for you to play tight. The reason being is that your opponents, for the most part, will have weaker hands than you when you enter the pot.

In tournaments, your stack size often dictates when you should change gears. A general rule is that the more chips you have, the more freedom you have to play looser. Meanwhile the shorter stacked you are, the tighter you should play.  

Watch and Learn

For more on the subject, watch professional poker player David Yan take a break during last year’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event to discuss the importance of changing gears.

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