Learning the Art of Reading Poker Players
Poker Psychology is the ability to determine what cards your opponents are holding.
It is not a natural born talent, but rather an acquired skilled which involves playing countless hours of poker and thousands of hands.
We have all watched poker on television and seen Daniel Negreanu make reads on his opponents that might have some of us scratching our head.
I have watched Negreanu bet down to the river and throw away his hand with a comment that his opponent must be holding Ace Queen and sure enough, his opponent held the Ace Queen. To many like me, it may almost seem uncanny but in essence, it is one of the skills, which separates the great players from the rest. Reading another poker players hand is one of the key skills you must be developing in order to succeed in cash games and tournaments.
Poker Psychology: READING-BETTING PATTERNS
You should note whether a player is aggressive or passive by the number of times they raise or just limp in pre-flop.
You also want to know the types of hands they may raise with or simply call or check with after the flop. Noticing their betting patterns is crucial in reading a player.
You need to know the wide range of hands that a player will raise with or call a raise with. You should also look at the other players acting after the raise and determine what types of hands they will call a raise with.
Poker Psychology: READING TABLE POSITION
You want to note the poker position the player was in when they entered the pot. Are they playing weak hands from early position? Loose players will play weak hands out of position and this is something you will want to notice.
If a player is tight and then comes in with a raise from early position, you can determine that they have a big hand.
Poker Psychology: READING THE TEXTURE OF THE BOARD
One of the first skills that a Holdem player must learn is reading flop texture to determine the best possible hand.
You need the ability to identify all the combinations of what beats what in poker that can be made from the board cards. It is extremely important that you can determine how your hand stacks up against the other possible hands that your opponent may hold.
You can’t start trying to figure out what your opponent might be holding if you don’t know what hands can be made from the board cards.
Poker Psychology: READING COMMON POKER TELLS
Watch peoples posture closely. Poor posture and aggravated body language usually disappears when a good draw or flop hits them. Also pay close attention to their hands when they place chips in the pot and how the place them.
In addition, if someone wants to talk after they raise, needling you and antagonizing, let them do it. Much can be learned from someone who can't shut up. Taunting and bold statements generally mean they don't want a call and silence from a loudmouth generally means strength. Make it a habit to observe your opponents poker face at the table
In the following video you'll see Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari involved in a hand. Antonio Esfandiari ultimately calls Negreanu's all in bet based on Negreanu's common poker tell.
Poker Psychology: READING THE TYPES OF PLAYERS AT THE TABLE
There are a certain number of "player types" of people, once you learn to classify your opponent; they then become easier to read. We are people of habit and will do the same things or kinds of things in certain circumstances almost like clockwork.
So then, it becomes extremely important to learn to categorize your opponents, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
For example, recognize whether your opponents are loose or tight. If they are loose, they are likely to bet a great deal or stay in for a long time with even a very weak hand, or on a long shot draw.
Tight players, however, have a tendency to fold at every breeze. Also, label them in terms of passive or aggressive. When raised, do they have a tendency to call or fold? Then again, do they re-raise?
Acquiring the acumen which poker psychology requires does not happen over night. To separate yourself from the ordinary poker face at your local venue or from the countless multitudes playing online, spend time reading poker players.
For more on poker psychology please read Guessing Opponents Poker Hands.
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