Table of Contents
What records are relevant to you?
- How does he play different types of hands with different decks?
- Can he give up top pair top kicker?
- Does he know how to use his position?
- Does he overplay his hearing cards?
- Does he protect his blinds a lot?
- Does he often take delayed play? Does he do the same on hands with a lot of hearing cards?
- Does he often fold in the face of a continuation bet or a second continuation bet?
- Does he like to make bluff raises on the flop/turn or river?
- Can he give up high pairs?
- On what kind of cards does he often check-raise? What does his over-raise mean?
- Does he show aggressive moves as soon as you check?
- Does he see a small bet as a sign of weakness and raise?
- Does he often float (stalking: the tactic of calling in the face of an opponent’s c-bet on the flop and waiting for the turn or river to stop action before attacking)? What kind of hand situation does this occur in?
- Does he bluff on the river circle with a bankrupt hearing card?
- Does he often counter-active bet against pre-flop raisers and then fold after being raised?
- Does he manage to steal a lot of small pots?
- What hands are held that will take a call/raise on the flop/turn?
There are a few key factors you want to pay attention to, and you should also be sure to pay attention to the additional factors that can give you an edge. However, exploring each of these important scenarios is beyond the scope of this article. If you want to consider this in detail, it’s not a problem for you to add more factors.
Size of the bet
The size of the bet is a very important factor: you can often determine the strength of the hand based on the size of the bet, especially for poor players. If your opponent is not betting based on the structure of the hand, but relying on his hand strength, then you can get information from it. You have to pay close attention to minimum bets and overbets.
- Will he overbet on the river circle when he bluffs or makes a value bet?
- Will he min-bet with a listening hand and call a big raise?
- Will he min bet with a strong hand to keep you in the pot/inspire you to raise?
- Will he make a minimum bet to steal the blind and then fold after being raised?
- Does he make a small, consistent bet and a big bet when he hits the middle of the board?
- What does it mean when he bets 1/2, 2/3, 1 of the pot?
For example, in smaller games, experience has shown that fish players tend to make only minimum bets with their hearing cards in order to see the next card cheaply.
If you judge your opponent’s bet size, then you have a big advantage against this player. For example, if the small bet represents a weak hand, then you can steal a lot of the bottom pot by raising. But if it represents a strong hand and he just wants to keep you in the bottom pot or provoke you to raise, then you can save a lot of money by folding. When you get a listening hand, you can see the next card cheaply against such a player, and you have a high potential bottom pot success ratio if you run into a mulligan.
However, if you’re dealing with a good player, you usually can’t make an inference from the bet size, because good players usually adjust their bet size based on the board. On a board with a lot of listening opportunities, bets are on average larger than on a dry board. There is also more money invested in a multi-player bottom pool than in a single-player situation. In this case, you can only help by keeping track of his play.
Guessing to reliable records
At first glance, you may wonder: How can I gather so much information? The more you observe your opponent and the more records you have on them, the faster you will be able to identify certain patterns in their playing style. You will then be able to make good inferences about their important playing styles and ideas.
Once you know how your opponent plays different types of cards, you will be able to make the right decisions at the right moment: on the one hand, it will help you save a lot of money against him, because in some cases you will be able to determine that you are behind your opponent; on the other hand, you will often be able to make value bets again, otherwise you might miss the chance to win more money. Since you are always one step ahead of your opponent, it will be very difficult for your opponent to deal with you.
Therefore, you start by recording your opponent’s individual hands, and as you observe more, you already have the possibility to map out your opponent’s playing tendencies. Studying historical hands and observing hands that you have not joined can easily help you do this. If the record shows that your opponent simply calls on a flop with a lot of listening cards and then raises on the turn when he holds TPTK, then you need to pay more attention to his moves.
- Does he do this when he has a strong hand?
- Does he raise on the flop with a hearing card?
- Does he often bluff on the turn?
When you have gathered enough information and know that he raises with a listening hand on the flop and only calls with a strong hand, then you have gained an important piece of information about this player.
Also, you should always remember that the type of player you are dealing with plays an important role in making a decision: a TAG (tight-aggressive player) only calls to the end with TPTK on a board with two flushes against a crazy player. While against a call-station player, he bets all the way down with KQ on a KT473 board.
In both examples, you have gained an important piece of information, but it will not help you further. If you play according to the strategy provided by PokerStrategy, you will neither become a crazy player nor a calling station, and you cannot assume that this TAG will take the same approach against you. However, you can gain from both the calling station and the crazy player when you play this hand. What hand is the calling station calling with to the end? What is the crazy player betting all the way down on a board with a lot of listening cards?
With both of these players, you can add preliminary notes and test later in the hand to see if they play this way often, or only against this TAG (tight player) player. This TAG may have bluffed this calling station a lot before, which caused this player, who usually doesn’t call with a weak hand, to call all the way to the end.
Likewise, the crazy player is often bluffed by this TAG, or often called by him with a listening hand, so the crazy player makes a second consistent bet on the turn and bets the river with a hand that has no showdown value to force out his opponent’s listening or weak hand.
Your goal, therefore, is to observe how other players play without joining the hand, recording information and making guesses. With further observation, you will be able to classify your guesses as correct or incorrect. If you already have a lot of information that proves to be correct, then you should trust them and test them in the game. If sometimes your guesses are incorrect, you should not discard them completely. There are no readings that are 100% certain.
First write down interesting hands and then test whether your guesses are correct, in this way you can gradually get reliable information. With a little practice, you will learn the way your opponent sees the game and what motivates him to play a certain way.
Notes on targeting poor players
Calling to the end with a marginal hand (LCD)
Calling to the end with many poor cards (e.g., middle pair, bottom pair, high cards).
Not bluffing the opponent (DnB)
Usually associated with a player who calls all-in with a marginal hand. The opponent often does not fold, making the bluff unprofitable.
Chasing Hearing (ChD)
Passively playing the listening hand and calling big bets on the flop and turn. You have to be very careful if he runs into a listening hand. Whether it’s an inside-hearing straight or a listening flush, they think each kind of hearing is worth the price.
Need to make a second sustained bet (2ndB)
He will barely fold on the flop and then give up almost any cards on the turn.
Top pair with a small kicker = nut hand (TPNK = NUTS)
Against this opponent, you should go all out to win all his chips when you hold top pair with top kicker, because he is willing to bet alone with any top pair.
Strong Value Bet (SVB)
Call with any hand you can think of, or even worse.
Tips for players making notes
Many players make the mistake of making notes in very complete sentences. Sure, it’s easier and simpler in the first place. But in the long run, they will face some problems because recording…
- Expressions usually vary.
- require a lot of space.
- It will become confusing over time.
The problem often comes from the fact that you have collected a lot of information, but you can’t use it effectively, and you often forget the meaning of the records you made a month ago. You have to make decisions in a short period of time, and you can’t read through the mess of information.
The way to avoid this problem is to use a consistent system from start to finish. It requires speed, brevity and simplicity, but also a high degree of accuracy and detail, especially since abbreviations are important. You can get used to these large numbers of symbols in a very short time. Initially, you may struggle to make records, but in the long run, you will benefit from a short, accurate record-keeping system that saves as much space as possible.