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Reading your Opponents in Poker

Learning to read your opponents in no limit holdem games involves a lot more than watching for nervous tics and minute changes in facial expressions. In fact, those types of reads are useless when playing poker on the internet. Instead, we can use betting patterns, player notes and logic to get reads on our opponents.

Betting Patterns

Betting patterns is a term used to describe the actions your opponents take over the course of a hand. If an opponent puts in a big raise before the flop, bets big on the flop, bets big on the turn and bets big on the river, his betting pattern would tell you he has a strong hand. That's a pretty obvious example but hopefully it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.

It takes time to get familiar with betting patterns but once you do they will provide great insight into your opponents' hands. When observing your opponents, take into account things like position and recent hands that opponent has played. For example, you'd be more willing to put someone on a strong hand if they raised preflop from early position than if they raised from late position.

Compare their betting patterns to the cards showing on the board. If there are two spades on the board and a loose opponent calls you on the flop, calls you on the turn, and then bets big when the river brings a third spade, you'll have to seriously consider the possibility your opponent was chasing a flush. It's not a guarantee of course but all of his actions make sense for a flush draw.

Player Notes

Every poker site out there has some sort of notes system you can use to take notes on individual players. Use this feature to your advantage by recording everything you notice about the opponents you play. After a while, you'd be surprised at how many players you run into that you've taken notes on.

Write down the types of hands they play, from what position they play hands, how often they chase draws, the times they get caught bluffing, how they react to bad beats and anything else you can think of. Poker is a battle of incomplete information and the more you have, the better off you'll be.


Break down the actions of your opponents logically. When you're trying to figure out what someone has, ask yourself what kind of hand YOU would have to have to make bets like he is making. Put yourself in your opponents' shoes and try to read the board from their eyes. It all helps in developing reads on your opponents.

If you make a big bet on the river and your opponent pushes all-in, try to imagine what kind of hand would make you place such a bet. Ask yourself how often you would make the same play as a bluff. You'd be pretty surprised at how close these two questions can get you to an accurate guess.


It takes a little practice but reading your opponents becomes easier and easier as you get experience at the tables. If you want to speed up the learning process, practice it all the time - even when you're not playing. Every time you sit out a hand, watch the other players in the hand and practice your reads on them. Eventually it will come naturally and you'll catch yourself reading your opponents without thinking about it.

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