Metagame and metgaming are terms often banded around by players of mid to high stakes poker when they are discussing how a specific hand played out. In short, metagame is a term used to describe when a player uses external influences to affect the game they are playing in.

One overly simplified example would be to make a very loose call on the river. Your opponents, especially the one you called lightly, will be less likely to bluff you on the river. This is because they will now expect you to call their bets.

Another example would be to three-bet a raiser with a hand like six-five suited. You could also show aggression on every street then show your bluff at the end of the hand. Or start playing loose-aggressive then switch gears and play very tight. That may pay off because of your loose image.

For metagame to be successful, you need your opponents to be intelligent enough to adjust to his or her game. But not smart enough for them to understand exactly what you are doing. And your change or play needs to be dramatic enough so that it is remembered long enough for you to take advantage of it.

One of the main problems, especially with online poker, is that your opponents do not actually take any notice. Online your opponents may be playing on multiple tables and fail to see your metagame play properly.

You also need your opponent to start to act the way you want them to, something you have no control over. The biggest risk is you not actually getting inside your opponent’s head at all and therefore making a risky move for little or no reward to yourself.

Suppose you bluff the river and get called by one of your opponents. You may begin to assume you can now bet most rivers for value as your opponent called your bluff and saw you had nothing. However, this particular opponent may have actually been bluffing himself.

And each time you bet for value on the river in future he may actually bluff himself. This would essentially turning a solid, straight forward player into a crazy bluffing machine!

Metagame is probably best used in a live arena and at medium stakes. Low and micro stakes players are simply too bad for the plays to work consistently. Metagame often works, but sometimes backfires, at high stakes games. Players can out-think themselves each time they act rather than just playing strong, solid poker.

One hand history I saw recently depicted a player wondering how to play his set. He thought that by check/calling he would give his hand away. He thought betting out would be a good option. However, he then thought his opponent would think like this so he check/called anyway!

Confused? Me too!