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Reading Opponents with Poker Tells

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Article Summary: Reading opponents in online poker can be difficult for most online poker players. Online poker strategy requires players to adjust their decisions based on their opponent’s tendencies.

Inexperienced players seem to really struggle with accurately recognizing their opponent’s playing style and tendencies. In online poker, a player’s tendencies primarily refer to their hand selection based on their position and how they bet their hands. Players can discover tells on their opponents by carefully paying attention to the pot odds and watching the types of bets being made. Obviously, online poker does not allow for the traditional tells of live poker where someone that seems to be blinking irregularly could be a sign of the strength of his or her hand.

Rapid Check

A player that checks instantly is normally indicating that they have a weak hand. Keep in mind; this is normally the case but be very cautious of the check/raise. Players that instantly check, depending on how many players remain in the hand and the pot odds, will more times than not fold to a bet.

Rapid Raise

If a player immediately raises absent of even the slightest hesitation, the player most likely has a monster hand or believes they can bluff the other players based on hands they’ve seen played by their opponents. Extremely loose players are an exception to the strong hand theory as they are likely to raise with anything. Whenever calling a raise that was made instantly, players should review their hand, their pot odds and determine if their outs make the call worth it. When calling an instant raise, don’t be surprised when you see an instant continuation bet.

Delayed Raise

Players like to use the delayed raise when they are holding a strong hand. This gives the perception that they are thinking really hard about calling your bet and are possibly trying to go over the top to steal the hand. However, most of the time this is exactly what the player wants their opponents to think. The delay is enough to make the opponent think their mediocre hand is the best hand but the delayed raiser is in fact holding the dominant hand. This is not always the case but players should be cautious when a player delays and then comes over the top.

Again, observing a player’s playing style and tendencies will significantly play into reading online poker opponents. A tight player will have a strong hand in this scenario the majority of the time, whereas, a loose player may not necessarily have such a strong hand using this bet. Either way, players should be cautious when facing a delayed raise.

Rapid Call

Players that rapidly call primarily indicate they have a marginal hand with draws or they are slow-playing the dominant hand. The idea behind the rapid call is that the impression is given that the player is not even fazed by the bet that was made and easily called. This forces the bettor to question the strength of their hand and possibly check the next time around. If this happens, the player with the marginal hand now has the opportunity to buy the pot because the player backed off and showed their weakness. The bettor is now in a tough position because unless they are absolutely certain they have the best hand, they have many reasons to believe the other player has them beat when it may not be the case. This is a situation where the marginal handed player used psychology to take an advantage in the hand.

Miscellaneous Bets

Players that seem to push way over the top in comparison to the pot size are usually either bluffing or have a monster hand. The odds are unfavourable usually for their opponents and they very well could just be buying the pot. However, players should evaluate their hand and only call these types of bets in instances where they are certain they have the best hand at the point of making the call. Other bets may include small bets or minimum bets when the pot has already built up. These bets may be an attempt to buy the pot without risking much but they are primarily feeler bets to see where everyone stands.

Players should also be cautious of the check/raise. Most online poker players understand how to use the check/raise and lure players when they have the nuts (best hand) during online poker games. However, the same players can easily be trapped with a check/raise and lose their chips by staying in with a marginal hand. Always be sceptical when a player checks, you bet and then they immediately come over the top. There’s a very good chance you’re beat. However, if the player has been extremely loose and has pulled this move quite a few times, they may be bluffing. This is why it cannot be said enough, observe your opponents to find out if these tells fully apply to their playing style and tendencies.

The above-mentioned hand strengths in relation to bet types refer to players that are primarily solid, tight players. Loose players may be much more unpredictable and this should be noted. When playing against loose players, hand selection and position needs to tighten up significantly.


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