Do you want to be able to control the board without necessarily letting your opponents know what you can do? Then it’s time to learn how to read your opponents, in the sense that you know their style of play. Understanding what makes poker players make the moves they make is going to be pretty powerful. It’s the difference between being a tiny fish swimming through some dark waters and being able to rise above that to take out other players. If that sounds a little too much for you…just remember that the other players are thinking about taking all of your chips. Real money poker is all about winning pots and taking down other players. You might as well get used to that early so that you can make the best poker decisions and get even more money.
Picking up tells and other signals online is much harder than it is in offline games. You can see the other people there. What do you go by when you really can’t tell much from the online table?
The truth is that there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Let’s dig in!
There are a few things to look for, from a top view: the pots they chase, and how they chase them.
The first concept is simple: how do they really go after pots? Do they tend to limp into pots, hoping for a big payoff on the river? This is a classic rookie mistake, and if your opponent is making this one…they tend to fold quickly or lose money when you come through with solid hands. This is why it’s best to stop playing all of those “maybe” hands really quickly.
What about when you see people folding a lot of hands? This is a much tighter player, so when they come out of the pre-flop firing money into the pot, you know that they have at least something interesting. That doesn’t mean that they’ll get what they want on the flop, of course. Make sure that youíre in poker position before you bet against a tight player. They are playing a much more precise game of poker than the first example.
Let’s move on to the times where you can see the hands people lost out on. If you see that they’re playing bad hands, this gives you information. But if you see that their hand choice is solid, you want to avoid bluffing as much as possible.
Good poker is about making a lot of decisions quickly. Pay attention to how the game changes based on how the chip stacks change. A player with a low chip stack might play irrationally in order to try to get their money back up. They might feel desperate to get ahead and so they’ll take on riskier pots, or they’ll try to push you into giving up more of your stack. By practicing discipline, you can really avoid a lot of this frustration.
Don’t worry that it will take some time to begin reading situations differently. Sooner than later, you’ll start looking at pots with a much more critical eye. You get more specific about your poker stats and stop playing by chance. Your emotions will shift as well. Sitting down to play poker online means that it’s less about simple fun and more about the sophisticated pleasure that focuses on the thrill, the chase, the hunt. This is something that most poker players will admit to over time — they like winning, and winning through strategy feels a lot better than winning through luck. But be warned: you will win and lose based on pure dumb luck, too.
This is why we like poker: there are so many ways to study the game, and we will continue to turn out some poker articles for you. But for now…time to hit the tables!