Farming isn’t just for vegetables anymore

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By Bryan Oulton

Playing bar poker, besides a nice night out and having fun, allows you to explore other “careers” to improve your game, such as being a farmer … a data-farmer that is.

What is a data-famer? Well, you might have noticed some players ask a lot of questions. Some just do that because they want to know everything about everyone. However, there are others who practice this vital method to gain information to use against you.

Phil Hellmuth wrote the forward in Ante Up columnist Joe Navarro’s book Read ’em and Reap that you are a profiler. When playing the game, you want to constantly gain information about people and then analyze that data to come to conclusions during key hands.

In everyday society, stereotyping is wrong. But in poker, stereotypes are an important starting point when profiling players. A 250-pound male attorney with a pinky ring is probably going to have an aggressive personality and style of play. Utilize stereotypes and then massage the data. As you play against a particular player more than once, maybe they have a different feel for you. Try to understand others will have a preconceived notion of you based on appearance, stated profession, etc. Use this information to your benefit.
Then throughout play, continuously gain data, not just through your own questions, but the conversations of others. Some of the info may be superfluous due to the established relationship of the players conversing, but you can always pick up on things. Just as in life, the more you know the better chance you give yourself.

As you continue your growth as a player, you’ll always utilize this tool, so continue to develop it. You might have noticed some more experienced players you know seem to take a keen interest in others, especially new players. This isn’t because they truly want to know about these players; they’re data-farming.

As you transition into real money events in casinos, or expand your buy-in levels, this will be a major assistance to your success.

— Bryan co-owns All In Free Poker, a league based in Pompano Beach, Fla.