Often, we can comfortably play our normal game and not worry a whole lot about adjusting our play. At the softer games in particular, this is often true. Adjusting is something we need to keep in mind though regardless, as we want to be aware of all conditions by which we may modify our play to gain an advantage.
Since our normal game is designed for a specific style, we first want to be on the lookout whether the game fits the style or not, and whether certain players fit the style. For instance, if we're playing a low to middle limit hold'em game, then we expect the players to see a lot of flops, not do a whole lot of raising, call a lot post flop, play a lot of draws, play a lot of inferior hands, overvalue their cards, etc. We need to make a note of who fits this pattern and who doesn't, as we need to look to adjust our play if indicated.
If a person's play fits this mould, then we will be playing "normally" against him. There's going to be several things we need to be on the lookout for though, and if we aren't really paying attention, we will miss gaining the proper advantage, and may even lose the advantage. Here are some examples of things to be focused on:
Players Who Play Tight Pre-Flop: Obviously, these players are going to be playing more premium hands than the norm. If they are playing noticibly tighter than usual, this is something we need to be wary of. After all, we benefit when our opponents don't adjust to our playing tighter than they are, which consists of a large chunk of the advantage we have over them. We don't want to make the same mistake as they do. We're going to need better hands overall with these players.
Players Who Play Very Loose Pre-Flop: While our opponents tend to call pre-flop a lot, sometimes you run into players who will play pretty much anything. We can play more cards against these players, although we also need to give heed when there are other players in the hand who don't play so loose.
Players Who Raise A Lot Pre-Flop: We expect a normal amount of raising, when players have a good hand. Some players raise a lot more than this though, and we need to take this into account, since the more often a player raises, the less meaningful it is. We can call their raises more, and play more aggressively against them when we have the hand to do it.
Players Who Very Rarely or Never Raise Pre-Flop: When players put in a pre-flop raise, this gives us valuable information about what they might be holding. Often, when trying to put a player on a hand, we can rule out certain premium hands if they didn't raise earlier. We won't be able to do this to the same extent with players who rarely raise though.
Players Who Fold A Lot Pre-Flop: We expect our opponents to do a lot of calling, but some tend to fold quite a bit more than average. With these players, we can be more aggressive and bet it out more. We can take hands down a lot of times simply by getting them to fold.
Players Who Call More Than Average: Some players just like to call. Instead of calling some of the time and folding some of the time, they almost always call. We won't be able to bluff them at all, but they are nice to be in the hand with since we'll beat them more than normal and collect more money from them when we do. With these players, we're less concerned with their calls than from the average player.
Players Who Check Raise: We need to be a lot more careful with dealing with checks from these players. If they tend to check raise quite a bit, expecially on a certain street, we need to be less inclined to bet into them, unless we have the hand to stand a raise. Checking back will provide a good defense to this, and encourage them to play more straightforward toward us, which is what we want.
Players Who Slow Play: This is similar to check raising, but includes all situations where they aren't playing the strength of their hand initially. It may involve checking and calling, just calling, taking longer than normal to call, and so on. These players are trickier and we want to be more cautious with them of course. Take into account the possibility that this player may be slow playing this time as well, and be prepared if this is the case. Slowing down when you're not sure of your hand is usually a good idea.
Players Who Raise A Lot: This is a very important one, since we generally will be looking to put raisers on a good hand, and fold unless we have a really good one. If someone raises more than normal though, we'll be staying in with more and more hands as their raise rate increases. The frequent raiser may only have a mediocre hand in a lot of cases, or may be bluffing. Paying attention to the frequency of raises of our opponents will both allow us to play back when we probably have them beat, and also prevent us from folding better hands.
Players Who Play Very Passively: We expect our opponents to do a certain amount of betting and raising. Some players just don't, and play extremely safe, even with good hands. We usually interpret this as weakness to a certain extent, but if that's the opponent's normal style, we need to be careful not to read so much into this. Keep in mind though that these passive players often don't play a lot of hands, so we often will need a better hand than normal, even though they aren't showing much strength.
Players Who Win A Lot At Showdown: Our goal is to win most of the hands that we show down, and this is a big advantage for us. However, sometimes it will seem that an opponent wins most of the time he's at showdown as well. This doesn't happen a lot mind you, but when it does, we need to be much more careful with this player. He typically isn't playing the junk other players do.
Players Who Lose A Lot At Showdown: Most of our opponents will lose more than they win at showdown, but some players seem to lose a lot more than others. They are the real chumps at the table, and when we're in a hand with them, we can discount their holdings over what we're normally up against.
Players Who Seem To Adjust To Us: This is a very important one. In this case, it will probably involve players who tend to fold to us more than to others. When this happens, we'll get paid less when we make a hand. In regard to the individual folding more to us, we'll be betting it out more often, and looking to take advantage of this extra folding. If he adjusts back, we'll do the same. Pay attention to any adjusting to your play though, and look to re-adjust to regain the advantage.
These are just some examples of some of the things we need to pay attention to and look to adjust to when appropriate. Keep in mind that you have your normal game plan and style, and expect your opponents to play a certain way, and any time they deviate from that, look to see what sort of adjustments you need to make to how you play that certain player, in order to extract the most profit out if him, and thus, the game in general.