Poker Strategy: Thinking About What Your Opponent Has
Posted at 15:04 2009-01-26
In poker it is most important to think about what your opponent might have before working out what you actually are going to do yourself. Often we get caught in our emotions and act without thinking. Maybe we have just flopped or turned the nuts and are so happy that we throw everything into the middle without considering what our opponent has caught. If our opponent has completely missed, then we do not win much at all with the nuts. But instead of moving all in straight away, stop and spend the allocated time thinking about what your opponent’s hole cards might be. When you put your opponent on a range, you can then bet an appropriate amount that might coax them into making a mistake by calling, allowing you to win more chips than you would by moving all in.
What about when we don’t have the nuts? It is very easy to bet with the nuts but only the truly experienced poker player is brave enough to bet when they do not have the nuts or any cards at all. Remember, in poker it is not about hoping to be dealt good cards all night and day, it is about outplaying your opponents. Everybody will be dealt their pocket aces once in every 220 hands or so, but what about the times when we are not dealt with the glorious aces? How do the professional players consistently make final tables and have good results? The answer is that they try to narrow down what their opponents might have before thinking about what to do themselves.
Every time you are involved in a hand think about whether your opponent has connected with the community cards. And if they have connected, which card have they connected with? What about their kicker? Is it a low kicker or a high kicker? Are they taking a long time to think about whether they are going to bet or not, or is there some kind of weakness that is showing in their hands or eyes or feet? Maybe instead of showing stress they are actually hiding a smile. By being able to slowly work out where they might be at in the hand, you can make your decision on whether to fold, bet or even throw in a check-raise to win the hand. Just be careful when your opponent calls, so it’s often best to make sure you’re playing in position when you want to get fancy.
Thinking more and carefully analysing the actions of your opponents when you are not in the hand is the best time to pick up on the patterns and playing style of the players at your table or online. What cards are they likely to play? Do they overbet their good hands or tend to slow play their made hands? Do they like to continuation bet? Once you have collected all this information about your opponents, you can use this information once you are actually in a hand to your advantage.
Remember, sometimes we all get caught up not thinking about our opponents and acting upon our own two hole cards. Think about what your opponent has before you act every time and your results will definitely improve.
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