When you want to win at poker, you must try to read your opponents and find out their playing patterns. One of these important opponent reading up strategies that you need to master is hand reading. Now you may ask what hand reading in poker is. Here’s the answer: it is trying to figure out the type of hand your opponent may have.
If you can master the art of hand reading in poker, your outcomes at the poker table will improve vastly. Here are some tips:
One of the first things I’ll advise you to do is to hang around a poker table where people are playing either no limits poker or limit poker games for about an hour or so. Try to put the players on hands and strive to understand their betting patterns. While watching their playing patterns and betting strategies, think what you could have done if you were in their shoes or what your strategies would have been to combat such opponents.
The next thing I will advise you to do is called player mapping. Try to participate in a tournament and watch how your opponents are playing and how they are betting. You then need to write down all these details about these players and their strategies in a notebook. Concentrate on their betting strategies. Try to find out if your observations stand true. Of course, this exercise is more suitable for online poker games.
You can participate in some small scale poker tournaments, preferably of the no limits type. Once out of three consecutive hands, you should raise a pre flop. The next thing you need to do is to watch your opponents’ responses to you.
Participate in a limit low blind cash game of poker. Try to raise all the hands prior to the flop. If you do this, you will become the center of all attraction and focus of the whole play and the action will start revolving around you. This will also put you in a power position and you will be able to call the shots. Even the rather difficult decisions will rest on you.
While performing these exercises, you may sometimes lose some of your money. Don’t let that daunt you. Try to play lower limits. However, if the levels of blinds are too low, not a single player will fold to a raise before the flop — you have to keep that in mind.
When the situation at the poker table turns too difficult, tricky and frustrating, it is best not to depend on your hand reading abilities. Rather it makes sense to rely on frank straight forward tight play.
Poker players are all human beings governed by their habits. The trick here is to silently watch the different players and observe their hands. In most cases, players unknowingly tend to repeat their hands. For e.g. if a particular player stays away from playing bad hands or bluffing or chasing, he will most probably stick to his pattern. Similarly, those who love to semi bluff or bluff raise or use deception in their games, will keep on doing it repeatedly.
When you have to deal with players in the middle ground who usually play tight but are not averse from the occasional tricky plays or bluffs, it is best to remain out of their path and let them have all the chips. Avoid confrontations with an exceptionally good player who is tough to beat, especially if you are calling the shots.
After the initial rounds in a poker game are over and everybody is climbing up the stakes ladder, you will suddenly notice that the tight nature of playing that was dominating the game so far is suddenly replaced by tight games interjected with weird hands. This means that after a point of time, almost all the players start realizing that all opponents were folding bad hands and going for tight poker.
So they suddenly start to raise with weaker hands to take advantage of the situation. When some of the other players guess this strategy, they try to get back at them by playing similar hands. So, what you need to realize is that at this stage when the game appears to be tight, it may even be that the collective hand strength is far less that what it appears to be.
Understand the relationship between betting and flopping, and how to draw inferences from the nature of the flop texture. It is easy to identify straight draws and flush draws. But it is rather difficult to detect other types of flops that do not have any draw to the turn card.
It is important to bet on the flop. I feel it is more honest to bet on the river and turn. And if you are observant enough, if you can pick up the signs or signals sent out by your opponents, and if you choose to be rational instead of stubborn, you will be able to escape from many dangerous hands.
Being able to predict your opponents’ hands is a skill that may not come easy. However, do not let yourself be disappointed into never trying to understand the process. It may be tough to learn, but it’s well worth the effort.