Have you ever been driving down the street, and go to pass a minivan with a man driving, and no other passengers? I can't count the number of times that the minivan will accelerate to keep me from getting around them. It is to the point where I won't even try to pass one if I see a guy driving with nobody else in the vehicle. Why do they do this? Simple: EGO. They feel bad enough already to be driving a minivan instead of that Corvette they know they should be driving....so they try to make up for it by being a egotistical jerk behind the wheel.
I know, what does this have to do with poker? Well everyone has an ego. Some are just bigger than others. Your goal at the poker table is to find the ones that have that big ego, and exploit it.
There are two egos that you can exploit, if you can spot them.
1. The I Am Better Than You Ego. These are fun to play against, because they are bound and determined to prove that they can outplay you.....even with the worst of cards in their hand. These are the guys you love to have pocket Kings against when they are in the big blind. No matter what you do, they'll call. "I gotta protect my blind" is their common statement.
2. The You Can't Bluff Me Ego. My absolute favorite ego to take advantage of. They can have pocket 2's, but they'll call you all the way through the river because they just know you're bluffing, and they're going to prove it. This kind of player loves to take the lead in the betting, and I just sit back and let them do all my work for me.
Don't confuse either of these players with someone on tilt. That's an entirely different discussion. These people aren't on tilt at all. They just have a strong need to prove how great they are. While they might be great....they're great while they push me their chips.
On a side note, lets talk about women in the game. I only bring this up because I made the above sound like it was about men only. The minivan was about men. The two examples you see are more about ego's in general. But since I talked about men, let me address a small thought about playing women.
I have found that most women that play regularly do have one little ego glitch that can be tinkered with to your advantage, if you are a guy. Most women think a frequent raiser of their blinds is "trying to bully the girl around". They'll fold a couple of times....but be prepared.....and better yet....have a good hand....after that. They will call out of anger if they think you are picking on them just because they're a woman. You have been warned.
Even better, don't pick on the women. Most of them can take you in a game anytime they want. Women tend to be creative thinkers, while men tend to be linear thinkers. Creativity can be a good thing. Plus, women can multi-task better than men. My wife knits while she's playing poker, and has her iPod playing in her ear. But don't think for a second she isn't paying attention. Or better yet, since we do have a joint checking account...go ahead....think that all you want.