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Why you Should Not Play Like Tom Dwan in your Home Game

Tom Dwan came to prominence as a star of online poker, with millions of dollars in winnings to his name. His graduation to the TV poker circuit saw him reach global notoriety, famed in part for his particular approach to the game.

Unlike most taught poker players, Dwan didn’t play with a tight-aggressive approach. Far from a shrinking violet, Tom Dwan has a reputation for playing wild and loose, leading to much more volatile wins and losses. This, coupled with his keen understanding of poker fundamentals, made him an unpredictable, difficult opponent to play against.

Fans of poker could be forgiven for wanting to emulate the Dwan approach. Sure, we’ve all seen him taking serious money on little more than a bluff. But this wild, erratic approach doesn’t come widely recommended. And when it comes to home games, forget about it.

Loose-Aggressive Risks It All

There’s a time and a place for loose-aggressive play, and your home game probably isn’t it. Of course, in home games there’s always the balancing act of keeping it social vs. playing well. Tom Dwan has a reputation as something of a maverick, an unconventional wizard at the poker table. Your home game isn’t the time to emulate that, especially given the risks involved with actually playing this type of strategy.

At the same time, you need to consider who your opponents are when you’re playing a home game. More often than not, they won’t be professional poker players — some won’t even have more than a basic clue what they are doing. This takes the edge off the loose-aggressive strategy somewhat. Often the Dwan approach works best when your opponents aren’t expecting it, or when you’re playing an otherwise tight table.

Don’t Play Too Many Hands

You can’t go into a home game assuming you’re going to play tight — chances are, you won’t get invited back. But you don’t want to go all Tom Dwan either and start playing every hand as if it was the last hand on earth. You still need a sensible strategy in place, and when your opponents aren’t necessarily savvy poker players, the inherent aggression that comes with a Dwan strategy is often too much for other players to handle.

Don’t jump in and play every hand — others will bet you all the way, and won’t be as responsive to your bluffs as in a cash or tournament game.

Slightly Looser Is Acceptable

When players in a home game come up against an aggressive player, they will usually back off. People don’t often like seeing this aggression, either socially or poker-wise, and will respond accordingly. Quite simply, most home players don’t have the stomach for very aggressive bets, but will push to upset bullying players when they hold a competitive hand of the nuts. At the same time, you might come up against players who pay no notice to your unusual strategy and are happy to bet you all the way — increasing the likelihood that you’ll get found out when you’re betting over your hand.

When you’re playing home games, being slightly looser with your ranges than you perhaps would be normally is OK. But at the same time, you may be up against already unpredictable players, without the sophistication you would expect from opponents in a cash game or in tournament play. You still want to keep things relatively tight - but don’t feel pressured into folding every weak to medium hand.

And whatever you do, don’t go all Tom Dwan expecting to walk away the big man — chances are you’ll wind up looking like an oddball, with a less than robust bankroll when you’re heading for the door.

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