Reading Poker Opponents

Tells are affectations, body language and oral clues that you and your opponents at the poker table display during the course of the game. Good poker players are always closely observing their opponents, looking for tells or ‘getting a read’ on the types of hands they most likely play as well as their betting patterns.

Once you’ve mastered the variety of poker strategies, studying tells and the psychological aspect, and mastering Reading Your Poker Opponents in the poker game will take your game to the expert level.

Acting weak with a strong hand and acting strong when they have a weak hand, is one of the most common play you will see weak and inexperienced players to make. It is most often just an act, but beware of a player taking it to the next level. If the player knows that you know he is acting, he might just switch tactics by betting with a strong hand, hoping you will call, or he will check a weak hand hoping you will also check, fearing he is strong which will give him a free card. Beware of giving false tells, because very few poker players are good at this, and most descent players will catch on to what you are trying to do. The most important thing you should do in order to eliminate your own tells is to develop a routine. Play the same way every hand, raise the same amount, take the same amount of time to make your decision, etc.

Some advises for the successfully Reading Your Poker Opponents:

  • First of all, show no emotions yourself.
  • Do remember that wearing a hat and sunglasses will hide your eye movements and the expressions of your face.
  • Try to resist looking at your hole cards until it is your turn to act. You better use this time to study the other players as they check their cards.
  • Notice how your opponents handle their chips.
  • Look for how fast they make their decisions during the hand.
  • Always pay attention to what they say, or do not say.

– Try to look for models of their game and at the end of the hand replay in your mind every betting round and try to figure how, and why they did what they did. Do not try to focus on all the gamblers at the same time, you will just get confused. Concentrate only on one person at a time and try spotting clues to their style of play, do they play loose and aggressive or tight and passive, notice how they bet, during what circumstances they fold, etc.

– Most common poker tells and how to read them:

Watch your opponents’ reactions when they look at their cards. Be aware that when players first look at their hole cards they are usually not acting because they don’t realize they are being watched. Players who quickly glance at their chip stack after seeing their hole cards are probably planning to make a bet, so they are checking to see how many chips they have to bet.

As your opponent makes a huge bet you see that his hand is visibly trembling. Now you think he is bluffing, but you are wrong. This is a classic tell in poker and it is considered to be one of the most reliable. The shaking is formed as a release of tension, because the player has a very strong hand and expects to win a big pot with it. The sharp players may try to fake this move but you will not see this action very often, especially performed by beginners and intermediate players.

Players that are apparently staring at you when it is your turn to act are attempting to prevent your bet by disordering you. Do not get intimidated, simply bet your medium-strong hands or better. You may get called but you will almost never be raised by this particular player.

An opponent looking away from you is most of the time more dangerous than a player who is staring at you when its your turn to act. The first one want you to bet, call or bluff, so he is trying to make you feel comfortable making those plays by acting indifferent to what you decide to do what he really wants. Of course, once again a good player may know that you know what he is doing, if he thinks you are a poker player capable of thinking at that level.

When it comes to poker tells, there is nothing sure, but that is one of the things that makes poker such a fascinating battle of wills. It might be frustrating with all this poker tells at first, but after you have mastered all the poker strategies and tips, you will only need to take possession on how to read your opponents at the poker table, in order to become a real poker expert.

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