Playing poker with options to be victorious both in a physical casino and in the best online poker rooms with real money is not something easy, since it demands control of different facets . In the first instance, knowing the rules well and having incorporated the basic movements in terms of strategy is essential. From there, it is crucial to manage movements in the best way in the face of the unpredictable .
A technique that can give you results when playing poker is to better read your opponents or hand reading . It is clear that to achieve this you do not need to be a clairvoyant or have a crystal ball, but to know how to apply some tips in the best possible way that will help you deal with each situation in the best way.
It is known that in the course of the game you can go from having the best hand on the table to being limited by an unfavorable flop that forces you to totally rethink your game strategy and expectations. Therefore, knowing how to read your opponents better will be important to anticipate your opponents’ moves and decide on the most appropriate action. It is mainly this ability that we are going to talk to you about in the following poker article.
What is poker hand reading
Hand reading in poker is all about identifying the most likely hand your opponent is holding . Whether you are aware of it or not, all users at the table have the objective of trying to discover what the two hidden cards of their opponents are hiding in order to make the best decision accordingly.
Therefore, if we reduce the nature of poker to the maximum, we could say that one of the objectives of this card game is to read the hands of the rivals. This is because this activity is itself a game of incomplete information and its objective is to find out what your opponent has , regardless of whether you are playing cash games or an internet poker freeroll tournament .
How to read your opponents using hand ranges
In poker, from the moment the cards are dealt on the table, it is important to be attentive to the movements of the rest of the players. A previous indicator that you can take as a reference is to observe the number of chips that each one of them bets on each play. However, you should not leave your final decision in the hands of what each one bets, since it is just one factor among many that come into play. Therefore, you will have to use the ranges of poker hands to be able to make an accurate reading of the play that your opponent may have.
Since the beginning of Texas Hold’em Poker , many players have tried to read their opponents’ hands by predicting a particular hand and not a spectrum that includes several of them. Everything changed with the introduction of the concept called ranges of hands , which revolutionized games forever, since it allowed the player to have a better view of the moves of his rivals.
The first step in using hand ranges to read the possible moves available to other players at the table in poker is to assign those opponents a hand range in each situation. To improve your poker hand reading, you should avoid thinking that the only combination an opponent has might be, say, AS-J, and recognize that there is a larger range of hands that could encompass their play .
Using the hand ranges, as we tell you in our poker tables article to learn how to play , offers you a much more precise vision of what your opponent may have at a certain moment of the game and allows you to make better decisions in each phase of the game. Of course, as with other poker strategies, it will take some time to master hand range reading , but once you do, it will serve you well.
Step-by-step guide to better read your opponents in poker
There is no certainty or an exact criterion about the steps you must take so that the reading of your opponents’ hands is 100% effective. However, we want to summarize the learning of palm reading in five steps that you must follow meticulously and that we think will help you achieve your goal.
Get the first tests
A first parameter that can help you read your rivals better is observation . That is, carefully scrutinize the betting patterns that your opponents execute. It is not the same how to play against aggressive poker players than conservative ones, for example. Do they take a long time to go through or do they go up instantly? Although this gives you a first impression of the landscape, you should consider that it is not advisable to proceed solely with this information. Therefore, to get started with hand reading you will need to get an initial idea of what hand you might have based on a combination of betting patterns and timings .
Identify your opponent’s hand range
Going back to the concept of hand range, the second step would be to assign all possible poker hands that your opponent could have at any given time. That is why, when gathering information, you must begin to place a range of hands on your opponent . You can fine-tune this evaluation as you receive new information: stakes, hole cards to show to the table, turnaround time, etc. Placing your opponent correctly in a hand is the most important strategic skill in poker.
Categorize your hands
Once you’ve identified your opponent’s hand range, you’ll need to break it down into two categories: winning hands and losing hands . This gives you immediate insight into where you stand and how likely you are to be ahead or behind your opponent each hand. You’ll also want to count the number of cards that can still come out and the ones that could favor his hand. In this way, you could get a ratio of the times you have the best or the worst hand.
Determine your pot odds and break-even point
From now on it’s time for you to do some basic poker math. What size is the pot? What size is the bet? To do this, you must determine your pot odds (the number of cards that would be worth to win the hand) and then convert this fraction into a percentage. The percentage that results from this operation will be your breakeven point , with a view to earning in the long term.
Make the most profitable decision for your aspirations
Now that you have your break-even point, all you have to do is determine what percentage chance of winning you have (what in the poker world is called fairness) against your opponent’s range. If the equity is greater than your breakeven point you should continue with your hand, otherwise you should fold it.
So you should always consider fairness . If you find yourself in a situation where your equity is greater than your chances of winning the pot, you should continue to play the hand. On the contrary, if your equity is proportionally less than your break-even point, it is prudent to withdraw.
Tips for reading poker hands
We have no doubt that knowing how to read your opponents better in poker is a skill that makes players great. In this sense, we want to give you some extra tips to read hands that will be very useful when facing your opponents at the table or in your favorite online poker room . You must incorporate these tips into the step-by-step guide to hand reading that we have shown you in the previous point.
Blending in with the situation by raising familiarity levels is a good starting point. Go progressively observing your opponents, it will clarify the situation throughout the game, being able to observe later elements that you may have probably overlooked at the beginning.
Contemplating the panorama with a general perspective is key to acclimatizing and capturing particular signals at the right time. Here you must put special emphasis on the strong points that the other players reveal throughout the game. As you pay attention to these details, you can correlate the play your opponents are making with the hands they are showing at showdown and fine-tune your predictions.
Read your rivals better, a necessary complement
Now that you have added a new concept to your poker dictionary , being able to read your opponents better by adding hand reading to your skills as a poker player can benefit you, although you also have to consider that it is not a completely foolproof technique . Therefore, you should never leave the outcome of each play to the reading of the hands and you should consider other aspects of the game such as the use of mathematics or the same unpredictability.
A fundamental point regarding the use of this strategy is that reading hands becomes very important just before large amounts of money come into play, with small pots, helping you to leave a hand at the right moment and take controlled risks. However, it is appropriate to note that to the extent that there are more players immersed in the pot, the reading of hands becomes less relevant and therefore the “technical” game in its purest expression will prevail.
Finally, we want to close this guide to better read your poker rivals by pointing out that the technique is ideal for poker players who want to take a leap to the next level, so if at first you don’t achieve great success, don’t give up. that in the long term becomes a skill that throws a positive balance . Knowing how to apply this concept not only makes you win games, but also reduces losses in adverse situations.