Observing Opponents

observing-opponentsIn poker, your observation skills are crucial to picking up on information and tells. The more information you have at your disposal the more informed decisions you will be able to make when you are put to tough decisions at the poker table. This will let you increase the likelihood of making the right decision, win a big pot when you have the best hand, and lose the least amount of money when you suspect you’re beat.

So observation is one of the essential elements of poker strategy, and there are areas of it you can apply whether you’re playing online or live. You just need to know what to look for.

Observe a Table Before Sitting Down to Play

Don’t be in such a hurry to take a seat and start playing. Poker is a game of patience, discipline and information gathering. Sit down at the table and let the button go around a full orbit before you play. It will give you time to evaluate your opponents and if at all possible you can rail the action before you even sit down. The worst thing that can happen is to get dealt a strong hand one of the first few hands of the session, and then get caught in a massive raising war between two unknown players.

They could be two maniacs for sure, but what if one of them is a maniac and the other player is actually very tight? Most likely, that nitty player is holding the nuts while you are sitting on just top pair. Not a good situation to be in when you’re playing guessing games. So try and be patient and focused during the early stages of the game, and save money in the long run.

Observe Hands Even When Not Involved in Them

Don’t get distracted by anything when you’re not actually involved in a hand yourself. This is the best time to actually be observing the other players and what hands go to showdown. If you just pay close attention to the hands you play, you’ll be missing out on a ton of information that other players are giving you.

Observe Opponents During the Play

Of course, you also need to be observing the action during the hand. Hopefully you will have profiled players within the first 30 minutes of sitting down at the poker table, and you want to look for any subtle differences in behaviours, betting patterns, mannerisms, or whatever else that may suggest the player is either strong/weak.

Typically, fish will try and act strong when they’re weak and weak when they’re strong so look for tells that may give away the strength of their hands. For example, if a player pretends to act disinterested in the pot after the flop, and then all of a sudden comes out betting and raising really big on the river, then they likely have the goods.