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Reading A Poker Player’s Game

Poker is much more than a game of cards – it’s a game of maths, psychology, human behaviour and instinct, and one that requires the utmost concentration and thought about both the cards on the table and the individual opponents sitting before you.  Obviously, reading a poker player’s game is harder in the online domain (an advantage of playing poker on the Internet), but is still more than possible through the style of play and the outcome of given hands versus the strategies employed by that player.  Broadly, the longer you play, the more likely you are to understand your opponent’s next moves – but how do you go about actually getting to read their ‘game’?

Body language can say a great deal about the hands and mood of an opponent.  Indeed some top players prefer to wear sunglasses to cover up their eyes to prevent reading of their body language and eye movements when playing poker.  The expression, to keep a poker face, is such for a good reason – you need to keep as emotionless and as detached from the cards in your hand as possible.  At the same time, you also need to be looking for chinks in the armour of your opponents, which good give away some clues as to the cards they are holding and their anticipated next move.

Work out the style of play of those you are playing against.  Are they making sophisticated calls, or are they playing the game by the book? Look for obvious plays, such as being overly bullish on strong hands and overly conservative on weaker hands. How often do they bluff?  How convincing are they are creating the impression they have weaker cards when they go on to take the hand?  How comfortable are they with their decision-making, and are they reckless in the way they play the game?  All these questions need to be buzzing around your head through the duration of a poker game, and you need to make assessments about your opponents as you go through to read their game and leverage any weakness to your own advantage.  Similarly look for a lack of focus – players that are expressing emotion of too heavily engaged in conversation are low hanging fruit, and can be made to pay big time for their lapse in concentration (provided you spot them first!).

Reading a poker game is something you improve at with time, and something that will certainly stand you in good stead as a skill for future poker encounters.  It’s not too difficult if you get in the right frame of mind – if you know what you’re looking for, you can play conservatively for the first few hands to establish a rhythm and feel for the table, which you can then use to capitalize on the weaknesses of your opponents.  If you spot any of the key signs of weakness, you should subtly pounce and exploit them over the duration of the game for maximum gain, which will leave you to walk away quids in at the end of the night…just make sure you don’t give the game away too early by adopting your own aggressive style!


This entry was posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 4:15 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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