When it comes to playing poker against the table’s captain, there are three concepts on which a player must be well-versed – understanding the captain, competing against the captain and the shifting of the captain.
Understanding the Captain
Usually, poker players can be put into a certain category such as “the rock” and “the loose donkey.” However, one player, and occasionally two players, take charge by becoming the captain at a particular table. The captain is always the table’s center point of focus due to their huge stack of chips, status of poker celebrity or aggressive playing moves. Regardless of the reason, the pace of each player at that table is mostly determined by the captain, especially during deeper stacked tournaments and cash games.
So if John B. is the captain at your table and he is stomping all over the other players with his wild hands and his many liberal bets, other players will quickly loosen up and start wider ranges of hands in order to match the hugely wide hand range of John B. In this instance, it is recommended to quickly figure out who the lead captain is at your playing table. And if you find yourself as table captain, you still need to learn more about how to react towards table shifts.
Competing Against the Captain
Competing against a table captain is not the easiest feat. It all depends on which player is the table captain and where his position is in relation to your own. For instance, if the captain sits to your left, you will be subjected to his merciless raises and bets because his position is more advantageous compared to your own. If this captain is an advanced player, he will know more intricate plays and powerful moves, which will only add to his beneficial position.
This is why you must observe the table’s tempo when you are up against its captain. If said captain has been victorious at a ratio of 5:6 pots by using an aggressive playing style, it might not be the best idea to steal the blinds when the captain is also in for the big blind. In general, you should play against the table captain in the same manner as you would with any respected poker player who holds a huge chip stack – hold out for solid spots before launching a counter attack as well as keep them at arm’s length by strategically timing your aggressive moves.
The Shifting of the Captain
Most games change table captains at least once. There are several reasons a current captain may step aside, such as quitting, losing a certain amount of pots or seriously diminishing their chip stack. Once you notice that the current captain is fading away, closely watch the players who seem to be making headway as they might be next to step up to the role of captain
You can tell when a captain is beginning to lose because he will temporarily play passively and tightly as a protective measure. This is the ideal time to assault them with lighter raises and bets. Once you strip them of their confidence, the captain will usually fold and pack it up. Of course, not all poker games have a captain at their table. Tight cash games, turbo tournaments and the start of new tournaments have no clear captain.