Poker is more a game of skill than it is the luck of the draw. If a player can learn the art of reading their opponent’s hand, it will give them a great advantage. With card reading, it is possible to win a round of poker with what seems to be a losing hand.
While it is impossible to know the exact cards your opponent holds, this article will curate a few tricks and techniques that get at the heart of hand reading.
Know Your Opponent Like the Back of Your Hand
When sitting down to play poker with a new player, it will take time to understand their playing style. Study the opponent to learn their playing tendencies. Without this understanding, you will have great difficulty reading the range of your opponent’s hand.
As the game progresses, adjust your playing style to feed off the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.
The Early Bet Gets the Worm
A person’s position in the betting order will tell a lot about an opponent’s hand. For example, if they place their bet before the flop, you can be reasonably confident they are holding a narrow range of cards, like a pair.
The Range is Where the Buffalo Roam
A player should be looking for the range of cards their opponent is holding — not the exact cards. The actions the opponent takes will reveal that range. If he places a bet or raises, he probably has a range of cards that will support the flop.
Don’t Put Your Opponent in Your Shoes
When trying to guess the range of an opponent, be careful not to make decisions based on presuppositions about how you might play the cards. Refer back to tip number one. Study your opponent before jumping to conclusions about how they make playing decisions.
Never Underestimate Your Opponent
When studying a new opponent, never assume he is a novice. Assume he knows the game and understands as much as you if not more. If they are betting high or low, it is for a reason. Try to figure out what it is. Ask yourself, “What’s in their hand to make them bet that way?”