How to Read Your Opponents at the Poker Table?

How to Read Your Opponents at the Poker Table?


Living in the information age, we realize how valuable data is today. And that's true when it comes to poker, a popular card game played by tens of thousands of people around the world. Thanks to the development of the iGaming industry, poker is no longer a game for small circles. From freerolls to cash games and major tournaments, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a game that combines strategy and luck, and to win something substantial. True poker pros say that poker is a game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Just knowing the hand rankings and understanding the basic rules of the game will not make you an outstanding poker player. Knowing how to read your opponents is an essential skill which virtually guarantees your success. There is a lot of hidden information that you can learn to find and identify in order to use it to your advantage. And we mean a lot more than just the tells that matter in offline poker. There are many different things you need to learn to notice and interpret correctly - and we'll talk about them in this post. 

Pay Attention to Betting Sizes

When playing poker online, you can see your opponents live, but you may lose sight of some of the details, as online poker does not give the full feeling of being in the physical gambling room. However, the first thing you need to pay attention to is what stakes your opponents are choosing. For example, the more experienced player will usually adjust his stake depending on how strong his hand is. Let's say one of your opponents is playing very aggressively, betting up to 25-30% of the pot. If there are players who regularly fold against this aggressive behaviour, they are probably feeling insecure. If there is a player who bets a pot size or higher, it is likely that he has a strong poker hand combination. Knowing how to read your opponents by the size of the bet they choose will help you successfully counter them even if you don't have a strong hand. 

The Pace of Play

While some poker players make lightning-fast moves, others take a significant amount of time to think through their next move. So, the second thing you need to pay attention to is how much time your opponents need to think about their poker moves. Chances are that most players at the table will take their time to get as much information about their opponents as possible, and that's a valid tactic for you to adopt. If a player moves too fast, you are likely facing a weak opponent with a low-ranked hand. Keep in mind that a fast move can be a sign of bluffing. Unfortunately, there is no universal way of recognizing bluffs from any poker player. However, by collecting and analyzing different information, you can easily expose weak players who are just beginning to learn the art of bluffing. 

Looking at the Chips Could be a Sign of Greed

Inexperienced players often give themselves away by their inability to control their emotions. And if you find yourself with weak players at the same table, you're in luck. There are many common reactions to watching one's own cards, and looking at the stack is one of the most informative. For example, a player who looks at his chips may do so intuitively to calculate in his mind his possible profit. This can be a sign of a player confident in the strength of his initial hand, so you might be wise to look a bit harder. While this situation is specific to the flop, it can also occur on the turn and river. Either way, it means Lady Luck is smiling at an inexperienced player and you should protect your chips. 

Behaviour at the Table and Conversation

If you've ever played at a physical poker table, you probably know that some players prefer to talk. Thanks to modern technology, many aspects - including conversation - have been carried over into the virtual environment as well. While some prefer to chitchat, others remain silent. Take a closer look at your opponents to see which category of player they belong to. This information will be useful for you because the behaviour of the silent player and the chatterbox can change dramatically in an instant. For example, practice shows that players with strong hands feel more relaxed and confident, and can therefore afford to talk to their opponents. If the flow of words stops at any point, something has changed. As a rule, silence is a sign of preparation for a bluff.  

Voice Change

You have probably noticed how a person's voice changes depending on their emotional state. For example, a stressful situation can not only cause a complete loss of voice pitch (aphonia) but also changes in timbre (dysphonia). Agitation in the voice can also indicate that the player has a strong hand combination. However, more often than not, voice changes indicate that the player is bluffing. As with other behavioural traits, there is no mechanism that will allow you to determine exactly what happened to your opponent whose voice changed. However, by analyzing all the behavioural changes together, you are more likely to come to the right conclusion. 

Poker Tips on How to Read Your Opponents

So, poker is a game which requires you to have not only strategy but also mental strength and discipline. Thanks to the information above, you have learned that there are many things you can notice and analyze in order to make informed game decisions. Although the element of luck is still present in poker, true professionals win big pots because they know how to make the best moves based on tons of information they acquire while playing. When you play live poker with real opponents, having a strong hand is not the deciding factor. You can make things work in your favour even if your hand is weak. So, here are some important tips to help you read your poker opponents better:

  • Good hand indicators are always in front of your eyes - learn to spot them. Most of the time, players with highly-ranked hands will try to get deliberately frustrated, leading you to believe their luck is running out. However, don't let yourself be fooled. Signs of nervousness or sudden sadness in a player are nothing short of a trick, so think three times before you raise.
  • Become a silent player. It's better to listen than to talk - remember that rule and always follow it. Listening to your opponents will give you plenty of clues that will help you draw the right conclusions. Moreover, the more you speak, the easier it is for your opponents to figure you out.
  • Keep a close eye on the general behaviour of each of your opponents at the table. Keeping track of your opponents will give you plenty of clues as to their real psychological state and mood. Watch them constantly, rather than looking at your own cards. While silent opponents are difficult to figure out, loud players tend to be more prone to bluff. Also, pay attention to the stacks. While conservative players lay out their chips neatly, loose players don't bother to do so. 

Finally, don't stop practicing. However, bear in mind that there's no point in learning how to read players if you're still new to poker. Poker is a science that has to be learned consistently. If you're still a poker newbie, you're better off starting with a single-player poker game such as video poker. This can be a great place to start so you understand the basic rules and learn the hand rankings. If you spend time evaluating your current hand, you won't have time to read your opponents. The best thing you can do is join VipArabClub, a well-established online Arabic casino that is home to many variations of the poker game. Here you can try your hand at RNG-based poker games without risking your hard-earned cash. The next stage in your development as a poker player is to join freerolls which are poker competitions with no entry fee. Freerolls can be a great place to hone your opponent-reading skills without the risk of losing big money. 

Final Words

As you can see, there are many ways to find out how strong your opponent is at the poker table. However, you'll need to learn how to find the individual tell for each opponent in order to get more meaningful results. Fortunately, many people tend to stereotype behaviour based on subconscious behavioural patterns. Abrupt changes in demeanour or mood, a particular look or movement of the hand, can all tell you a lot about the strength of the hand. Once you figure out your opponent, you'll discover how easy it is to take the pot. However, making decisions based on at least 2-3 helps to be more confident in making the correct inference.

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