Records are an important tool to help you make the right decisions, and they become more important the higher you move up in the hierarchy, so it is recommended that you focus on this topic from the beginning. As long as you create a good and clear record-keeping system, you will benefit greatly from the information you collect.
In this article you will learn how to identify important information, how these records in turn affect your game and what you must pay attention to.
Table of Contents
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – How to collect information
Since poker is a game of incomplete information, you must soak up every bit of information like a sponge. With every bit of information you acquire, your advantage against your opponents increases, which will be reflected by more profits.
Therefore, your goal should be to：
- Observe your opponent all the time.
- To obtain information about his game.
- To record the information you obtain.
- Use this information to determine the appropriate course of action.
Your observation will minimize the incompleteness of information and thus gain an advantage. When you can distinguish the level of importance of information, you will be able to master this skill to interpret it correctly and use it accordingly.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – What information to gather
Generally speaking, you would say that every bit of information has value. However, you don’t have time to study lengthy records while playing, so your goal is to determine your opponent’s play style with a few accurate pieces of information. In order to do this, you must simplify the information into bullet points. We will give examples of what information has value and needs to be recorded.
When playing online poker, you can get a general idea of how loose or tight your opponents are with some data tracking software. However, your goal is to get as good a feel for your opponent as possible.
- What cards does your opponent like to play? (Flushes, Ax and other high cards, small pairs, straights, etc.)
- How does he play different types of cards preflop?
- Which cards does he play to follow up/call with?
- Which cards does he raise with?
- Does he consider position when holding weak cards?
- Does he steal the blinds often?
- What cards does he re-raise with?
- Does he move all-in pre-flop even when he holds a weak hand?
These are just a few examples. Of course, the list can be expanded to include more, and the above is just a hint of what you must watch out for.
It is always valuable to keep track of your opponent’s unusual playing style.
For example, his cold call with AA in a favorable position (meaning that player A 3-bet in front position and player B just called without raising) of his opponent’s raise is a piece of information that will be useful to you in the future. However, knowing that your opponent raised with TT (T for 10) or other quasi-strong cards in CO (cut off, the first position on the dealer’s right hand) will not help you at all, but if he plays a follow-through/raise with these cards, it is worth drawing our attention to the fact that you will know which cards he will play with to take such a play.
It’s important that you don’t rely too much on data tracking software, as they only give you an average of his playing data. This means that two players may have the same pre-flop data, but they still play in completely different ways: one may be a very good loose and aggressive player who pays attention to different positions, while the other is just a fish player who raises randomly without thinking.
Don’t base your opponent’s ability post-flop on his pre-flop play, because many players may have solid pre-flop strategies, but many of them will make serious mistakes after the flop.
However, by understanding a player’s pre-flop tendencies, you can avoid some post-flop mistakes. For example, if a player likes to play any aces, then you must be very careful about holding pocket pairs with aces on the board, and when he starts betting or raising, you can fold in most cases. On the other hand, if you hit an ace yourself with a big kicker, then you can make strong value bets because these opponents will stop folding in most cases.
Likewise, some players like to play flush draws and call big bets on the flop and turn with flush hear cards, and you always have to be careful when the flush comes up. When you are faced with a big bet or raise, you should always be able to fold easily.
More important than knowing a player’s pre-flop tendencies is seeing through his post-flop play. However, as mentioned earlier, it is helpful to keep track of what a player likes to play. In any case, as the bottom pool and bets become bigger with each round, most of your winnings come after the flop. Now, we will introduce you to the basic types and patterns that you should be aware of.
How does he play a variety of different strong hands?
This point is probably one of the most important points, but also one of the most difficult, because you often have to spend a long time gathering information in order to make reliable predictions. Therefore, you should always try to gather as much information as possible.
First of all, you have to classify the different cards. For example, you can use the following distinctions：
- Strong Success Hand (SMH): three of a kind, two of the biggest pairs, straight, flush, gourd…
- Medium Strength Hand (MSMH): top pair, smallest two pairs…
- Weak Hand (WMH): middle pair, bottom pair…
- Strong Hearing (SD): Flush Hearing, Two Ended Straight Hearing, Combination Hearing…
- Weak Hearing (WD): Inside Hearing Straight, One Card Weak Flush Hearing…
- Bluffing (B)
However, you also have to consider the different deck structures, as the condition of the deck has a significant impact on your opponent’s decision – he is likely to tend to slow play strong hands on a dry deck and not play that way on a deck with many hearing hands. Therefore, it is always important to combine hand strength and deck structure: never consider only one of these factors in isolation.
You should distinguish between at least the following different kinds of decks：
- A dry deck (DB)
- A straight hearing deck (SDB)
- A flush draw (FDB)
- The face of a large number of cards (DHB): with the possibility of flushes and straights
Of course, we can also expand to more decks, because the number of high cards is also important. In the miscellaneous suit side of T45, there is the possibility of a straight hearing, but it is less likely than in the miscellaneous suit side of JT2.