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Top 10 ways to read your poker opponent

26 June 2017

Information is probably the most important thing in poker. The more you have, the easier the game gets.

This is particularly true when it comes to your opponent's hand. If you know what the person across the table has, making the best decision becomes easy. Obviously, most of the time it is nearly impossible to determine the exact holding of your opponent, and all you can do is determine his range. That's one of the vital skills to learn if you want to win at poker. However, there are certain efficient ways to assume how strong he is.

Below, we highlight the top 10 ways to read your opponent. Implement these tips into your MTT poker strategy, and you will most certainly have an edge the next time you sit down at the poker table.

10. Bet sizing
One of the things you should try to follow every time you play is the bet sizing of your opponents. The not-so-experienced players usually bet a different amount with strong hands compared to weak ones.

If you detect and follow the pattern, you'll have a much better idea whether or not you are facing the nuts or complete air. For example, let's say you have an aggressive player who is often trying to buy the pot by betting between a third and a half of it. If you notice this and see that he almost always folds against aggression, you can be sure that he is bluffing most of the time. However, when he bets the pot or even more, he probably holds a legit hand. Therefore, take bet sizing into consideration, and you will be gaining a ton of information.

The more information you have, the better.

The more information you have, the better.

9. Timing tells
Another thing you need to master is the ability to spot the amount of time it takes a player to make his move. Very few people can control this to the point that there's no difference. The majority of your opponents will be taking their time when they’re making big moves.

If a player is surprisingly quick to act, he probably does not have much to think about, and in most cases, it means he is holding a weak hand or a draw. Otherwise, he would most likely consider raising or folding. There’s no universal way to determine if the opponent is bluffing or has the nuts. Therefore, you should base your decision on previous observations and other tells.

8. Table talk
There's usually a lot of chitchat going at the poker table. Some people can't stop talking, and others prefer just to remain quiet. If one of those guys suddenly changes his behavior completely, you should consider what that could mean.

According to some studies of poker psychology, when people have a strong hand, they tend to be more relaxed and ready to chat. Therefore, when they try to bluff, they are more quiet, hoping avoid giving away any tells. Use this to your advantage.

7. Making direct eye contact
Our previous point is directly related to direct eye contact. If a person is bluffing, he will try to avoid direct eye contact, or he will at least try to avoid looking at you for an extended period. This is why you should be extra careful when someone stares at you. It is usually a sign of a very strong hand.

6. Glancing at their stack
There is a reason you should try to follow the reaction of every single player right at the moment he sees his hole cards. Many opponents will intuitively take a look at their chips and try to calculate how much they can win when they see a monster hand like AA or KK.

The situation is similar on the turn/river and especially on the flop. A quick glance at chips after seeing community cards is a display of a greedy mind. Be sure to protect your chips when you see it.

5. Freezing after making a bet
You will often see people freeze after making a huge bet. This is a certain sign of a big bluff or an exceptionally strong hand. They simply don’t want to make any movements or even speak because they are afraid it will give away their cards.

Most of the time this indicates a bluff, but it could be the nuts as well. Try to cross your observations with some of the other tells in this article for the greatest effect.

4. Staring at the hole cards or the board
This one is pretty similar to the freezing tell. If your opponent is desperately trying to not look away from a fixed point at the table, for example, his hole cards or the board, you should know he is afraid and is not going to play a big pot. Most players do that when they bluff and are trying to hide any sign of weakness.

3. Voice recognition
Some people just get too excited when they hit a big hand. One of the consequences is the inability to control their voice, and it can suddenly sound unnatural.

Once again, this should always give you food for thought. Something is going on, and you better find out what! The tricky part is trying to figure out the source of the excitement. Most of the time, it could be because of the opportunity to win big with a monster, and you should proceed cautiously.

Pay attention to table behavior.

Pay attention to table behavior.

2. Nervous betting
Sometimes people will become very nervous while betting. They will drop chips, try to figure out the exact size of their wager and so on.

If you spot something similar, I have some bad news for you. Most likely, you are facing the nuts, and the opponent is just too excited to smoothly put chips in the middle. Make sure to fold, unless you have a very strong hand or tell that he could be bluffing.

1. Acting super strong
This is one of the most typical signs of weakness. The player is trying to overcompensate his fear by acting like he doesn’t care if you call, even if this is exactly what he wants.

Unless you're facing an experienced pro who plays tricks with your mind, it's almost always a bluff. Especially, if you notice stuff like splashing chips or direct calls to action. Just think about it — when you have a made hand, do you want to let your opponent know by acting so strong?

Conclusion
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to recognize how strong your opponent is. However, you should always try to find tells unique to each person. A lot of people tend to follow subconscious patterns when they play poker, especially live. Whether it is a particular move of their hands or other parts of the body, a quick look in a certain direction or something else, watch them carefully. Once you figure it out, it almost becomes too easy to take their money. However, be aware that you can get more information from recreational players, and you should always be looking to confirm your decision with at least a few tells before judging your opponent on it.

Obviously, it is much simpler to notice these patterns in live games, but you can learn how to read your opponents with online poker tells as well!
Top 10 ways to read your poker opponent is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com
Tadas Peckaitis
Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com