Reading People Well Leads to Wins
We love to play poker! We like when we can turn a plain poker game into a Juicy Poker game. Reading our opponents is a great way to juicify poker! But that is a lot easier said than done! Thus, we present a short discourse on how to read people.
Reading People in Poker Leads to Identifying Tells
In other words, if we don’t observe people in general and our opponents in particular, we would not be able to identify any tells. Even playing online, we can observe our opponents and develop a skill for finding tells and then exploiting them for our benefit.
The key, of course, is to develop the skill to read people and then to extend that skill to the poker table.
Body Language Tells us a Lot about People
In everyday life, we use the term body language to categorize a set of physical actions or inactions that tell us something about a person. At a job interview, for example, the interviewer may ask tricky questions hoping that the interviewees reaction might give away some information they might not have revealed otherwise.
A job interviewer wants to know how a prospective employee reacts to pressure, how they deal with deadlines, how well they can keep a secret, how well the interviewee listens, if the interviewee displays any lack of self-confidence, if the interviewee shows passion, determination, and ambition, if the prospective employee has come prepared, if he or she is self-aware enough to know their strengths and their weaknesses.
Believe it or not, that is exactly what a good poker player wants to know about his or her opponents! The close observation we do on every hand is a type of “job interview” for a future hand in which that opponent will be matching bets and wits with us.
How an Opponent Reacts to Pressure
Even in Texas Holdem, where only two cards are unknown to the table, the range of uncertainty is very big. Anytime you stay in a hand and get action, you will be under pressure to determine if the hand is worth staying in or if you should concede the hand to your opponent.
If a player regularly folds after the flop, after the turn, or even after the river, that player may not even be aware that they are telegraphing weakness under pressure. It is entirely conceivable that you could intimidate such a player to fold with a better hand simply by making an aggressive bet.
This is also an observable trait in an opponent at Juicy Stakes online poker room. While when we play poker online we can’t see our opponents, we can make reasonable observations that can make a substantial difference in our ultimate bottom line.
How an Opponent Deals with Deadlines
In online poker, every player usually has a time limit on their next play. If you can confuse an opponent by making a bet that is somewhat out of the ordinary, they might succumb to time pressure. This will indicate a low level of decision making skill on their part. This will be useful for use in a future hand.
How Well Can an Opponent Keep a Secret?
The secret here, of course, is the relative strength of their hand. If they show any distinguishing traits when they bet from strength or when they bet from weakness, you need to pounce and make the correct adjustment.
The giveaway might be in the sound of their voice or in body language in a game at a land based poker room or it could be in the time they take to make their decision in an online game. If a player thinks when they have a borderline hand and is quick to bet with a solid hand, this will be a very observable giveaway of their most precious secret in an online game.
Does Your Opponent Show Low Self-Confidence?
The only way to be able to reasonably know if an opponent has low self-confidence is to engage them in chat. By asking easy questions about the city or country they live in, you might be able to get some idea of their confidence level. Always keep in mind that getting to “know” an opponent is a long term project. If the first set of questions doesn’t give you any insights then you simply switch to another line of questions.
You can also tell opponents about yourself. If you exude self-confidence, you might be able to elicit a remark that paints the opponent with either high level of self-confidence or a low level of self-confidence.
Does the Opponent Show Passion for the Game?
A great way to find out how much an opponent cares about the game is to refer back to a previous hand. Try a hand that was played say ten hands before. If the player has no recollection of the sequence of betting in that hand, it might indicate that their level of passion for poker is low.
Poker players with a low level of passion for the game may not care so much to be competitive. They might be intimidated into folding when it would be reasonable for them to stay in the hand or it might make them lose money they should not lose by correctly folding a losing hand.
In other words, a player with low passion for the game is ripe to be exploited in selected hands.
Does the Opponent Come Prepared?
Even in high stakes games, many players do not come prepared and lose more than they should. If you notice a player losing hands that they should have folded or folding hands that they might have won, it might be a sign of low self-confidence or any of the other areas we have covered here thus far.
It might also simply mean that the player is not prepared for this level of poker. You might not get a large pot from a head to head with this player but, on the other hand, you could win many hands that you might have lost.
As much as we may not like studying poker math, it is essential that we apply the principles of poker math to most of the hands we play. One reason is that most of our opponents will be applying poker math to the hands they play and if an opponent is not using math it will be a sign that that player can be separated from his or her money more easily.
It all boils down, in this context, to preparation.
Another aspect of preparation is the ability to stay focused and engaged even when the game gets boring. It will get boring! The player who loses concentration will demonstrate his or her loss of concentration by making foolish decisions.
You need to train yourself to be bored without “being bored”! Taking long, leisurely walks can be quite boring but it is the very ability to take these long, leisurely walks often that will translate into an edge during a poker game.
This is something you can do when you play online at Juicy Stakes that you can’t do at a land based poker room. Write down observations on every hand! You will have folded a vast majority of hands. By writing down observations, you will prepare yourself for those hands you do play!
We suggest writing down how each player bet, in which position they bet, what they did after the flop, after the turn, and after the river and how the hand ended.
Stay in the Game
Juicy Stakes wishes great poker fun for all players at every stakes level and every skill level. Many of the things we spoke about here may not apply as much in low stakes games simply because the stakes are so low they may not affect the betting patterns of players.
It is still important to use your time at low stakes poker to hone the skills you will need when you move up to higher stakes poker.
Keen observation is a great teaching method. It is also a great learning method! Observe and ye shall prevail!