I find that when I respect my opponents, I play my best poker. By respecting them, I try to understand how they are playing, what they’re thinking, and what strategies they’re using. I do this as an impartial, nonjudgmental observer. As a result, I’m able to specifically understand what all of my opponents are trying to accomplish at the poker table.
I find that when I disrespect my opponents, I play suboptimal poker against whomever I’m disrespecting. For example, I see someone open limp on the button and I lose respect for their game. I’ll give them a green dot, make an “open limps button” note, and mentally file them away as a “fish”. I pay little or no attention to them after this, they’re not worthy of it.
When I’m respecting the same opponent who open limps the button, I watch them carefully and realize that they’re only open-limping with suited connectors and JT, QJ type hands. I also notice that they bet every flop that is checked to them after open-limping. I’m able to leverage this information and capitalize by raising a lot of their flop bets particularly on ace and king high boards.
Another example of an opponent I might disrespect is someone who is checking behind lots of flops after being the pre-flop raiser. Again I might make a note, give them a green dot, label them a fish, and pay little attention to them. When respecting this opponent, I notice they are only checking behind hands they intend to see a showdown with. With this additional information, I can bet the turn for value with my made hands and check down my bad hands whenever they check behind.
Respecting opponents doesn’t only apply to bad players. It applies to every player regardless of playing ability. By respecting them: I’m keeping an open mind, refraining from labeling them, and trying to specifically understand their strategies by paying close attention to them. In doing so, I’m able to develop very specific counter-strategies that allow me to maximize my edge over them.