Learning to Read Your Opponents – How To Read Other Poker Players

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to play poker if you knew what your opponent’s cards were? In David Sklansky’s book, The Theory of Poker, he said that “to play a hand correctly is to play the exact same way you would if you knew your opponents hole cards.”. Since it is rare that a player will waive his cards around for you to see you will need to develop the skill of putting other players on a range of hands. This is a skill that you can learn over time but only with experience and practice.

Keep Analyzing the Table

Even though you are out of the hand you should still be watching the action at the table and practicing your reading skills. These are opportunities to develop your reading skills without risking any money, so you should be certain to take advantage of it. By watching how the hand plays out and how the betting goes, you can determine a lot of information about the type of players that you are playing against. You need this information because different types of players may respond differently from each other in similar situations. You can not interpret what betting patterns mean without knowing what type of players are doing the betting and calling. Are they a “Rock”, a very loose aggressive player, or somewhere in between? As you watch these hands you should try to put each of the players on a range of hands and this is an excellent way to refine your reading skills.

Maximize Profits by Knowing Your Table

When the first two cards are dealt you have zero information and the range of hands that your opponents hold could be absolutely anything. As the betting begins you begin to gather some information and since you have been observing the other players for some time now this information is even more meaningful. If a tight aggressive player raises pre flop then you can narrow his possible range of hands down to strong hands that do not play well in multi way pots, like AA, KK, QQ, JJ, and AK. If this player is on the button and has shown that he regularly raises in that position, then his range could be much wider. As the action proceeds on later streets you will be able to narrow the range even further. Even though you have watched some poker professionals make uncanny “reads”, they are not doing it with any kind of X-Ray vision or super power. They are making these reads by understanding the players and observing their betting patterns and narrowing their ranges as the hand progresses. This is the poker version of X-Ray vision and you can develop this super power with practice.

Be Aware of Changing Playing Styles

It is important to be able to vary your play or “change gears”. Many good players know how to do this. You need to be prepared for the possibility that a good player has changed his pattern and with practice this will also be revealed though attention, betting patterns, and the play of the hand.

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