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It is important to be able to sit down at any money or free texas hold em poker table, whether you’re online playing or at a real game and study your opponents. I believe patience is the number one key ingredient when it comes to reading players and most important when the game first starts.
Why you might ask? This gives you a chance to sit back and take mental notes on the player’s actions. This is very effective during the first half hour of a free roll tournament because a lot of players like to go all in and hope they win the pot. I myself will only call these players with a high pair, or suited low connectors because I’ve played them before, and they will go all in with any two hand cards given.
What Mental Notes You Must Start With
What mental notes you should take during the first 30 minutes or if moved to a new table in any poker game is moderately simple.
- Determine what players are playing conservative and which ones are playing loose.
- The ones who are playing loose are going to bet on almost every hand and call just about anything.
- Those who are playing conservative will continue to fold until they get either the cards in hand they want or any pairs of AA’s, KK’s, QQ’s, JJ’s and any of them in combination.
- How to read a player if he or she is bluffing can be difficult if you have not been paying attention to the game as can happen a lot on free poker sites or if you are playing multiple online poker games.
- If you have been paying attention to the game you will have more of an advantage to who might be bluffing, and it will be obvious to you.
If you have an ace and king of spades…you will be feeling good about your whole cards. You are waiting for the other player to check or bet, to your surprise the player bets 400 chips when the pot is at 120 chips.
So you call the player and on the flop lands Queen of spades, Jack of Spades, and ten of hearts. The other player is either going to go all-in in order to make you think he/she has the winning hand. You know you got this won so you call the player’s bluff and on 4th street lands a 9 of clubs and on the river a king of diamonds. Well, you just won with an ace high straight while the other player had nothing.
This is very obvious but if you have been paying attention to all the players, and you were up against a more conservative player. They might try to buy you in by betting low not over the pot before the flop and after. These Players know what they are doing and most likely will have a full house against your ace high straight.
Here are some practical tips that I use.
Players who take too long and hold back to the last second to check are trying to miss lead you into thinking they have nothing (note: in online poker the player might be taking too long because he/she is playing multiple games.) and wait for you to make a bet worth calling. Filter these players out as this might be a habit for them.
Players who anticipate until the last second and raise you all in are trying to buy the pot with a decent pair hoping you don’t have any aces in your hand!
Everyone Knows a chip bully. Every table has one. The only way to knock a chip bully off his costly chair is not to be distressed of his/her large chip stacks. If you have it, go for it. Most likely, he/she is bluffing cause, they want to pilfer the pot or blinds.
All players have habits. All players will develop a pattern of betting structure out of habits.
What habits might they form?
A player that makes the initial raise and watches others fold and only two other players call his raise. The same player that made the initial raise won’t bet any higher or lower but the same amount. In the end, one of the other two players will fold and the player who made the initial raise will fold.
Another habit I witness now and then is that various players will lose 80% of their chip stack. They get upset because they had a substantial loss and choose to keep going all in until they lose or earn back some chips. These players have given up and gone on “tilt” best thing to do is to call them when the time is right be patient.
Some players are almost impossible to read because they Know they are being read and are always changing up their technique. Subsequently, they will repeat themselves. These players will take up most of your contemplating analyses.
In conclusion, I hope this article will help you fine tune your skills and have given you some strategies you can use of your own at the tables. No player is impossible to read but its the one who can’t read that make the game inexplicable (for themselves!)
My advice if you struggle with reading other players or if this is all new to you is to get in lots of practice in low risk games. Try low or micro stakes games or some online free poker NoPayPOKER games to get a feel for it all before committing any meaningful money.
See this free poker lesson for an advanced lesson on the mental side of the game and player note taking see the NoPayPOKER blog series by D M Vadnais. Scary stuff!
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