What Is Leveling In Poker?
In poker, leveling refers to playing a mental game and trying to outsmart your opponent by thinking about what they think about you.
Or in other words, when you are “leveling,” you are trying to anticipate what your opponent is thinking about you and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Getting too caught up in leveling wars with poker sharks or grinders can be dangerous and can lead to bad decisions because this approach starts a never-ending cycle of trying to outsmart your opponent, which leads you to forget about the fundamentals of the game.
Furthermore, if you are only thinking about what your opponent is thinking and not paying attention to the action, you may miss valuable information that could help you make better decisions.
While leveling can be a useful tool in some specific situations against regulars, it is not recommended that you base most of your decisions on this approach against NITs or recreational players such as fish and whales.
Poker Leveling Example:
Let’s say that you are playing a Texas Holdem poker game against an opponent that you know continuation bets way too much.
Your opponent makes a 2-bet, and you call with K d Qc. The flop comes As 7d 8s, your opponent makes a c-bet, and you make a raise trying to bluff him out of the pot based on your read that he will c-bet almost his entire range on this flop.
But instead of folding, your opponent comes over the top. In this situation, you might think that your opponent knows that you know that he c-bets too much and that you are trying to exploit him, causing you to go all in.
In that case, your approach to this situation could be described as leveling.