In a previous column I discussed betting patterns and described many patterns that your opponents may be using. Knowing that and other supplementary information about your opponents, you will be better prepared to defend yourself. Our focus today is on low/middle-limit hold’em where the bet size is limited, as contrasted with no-limit and high-limit games.
For the greatest advantage, combine all your information sources. First, decide what to look for regarding your opponents’ betting patterns. Then, consider other supplementary information about your opponents. Finally, examine your own betting patterns – with which you are in full control.
Of course, if you’re playing online instead of a brick and mortar establishment, it’s also important that the online casino or poker site you play at offer a wide variety of Texas Hold’em games and tables so that you can game select and find the right one to plat at. You can test your skills at Texas Hold’em here for free.
Know Your Enemy
The more information you have about the hands each player chooses to play and how he plays them, the better chance you have to win.
After a round or two of play with a new opponent, you should be aware of their playing traits (tight, loose, aggressive, passive, etc.). Make note of this and combine it with their betting patterns and look for tells. That will help you to win more often.
Going one step further, there is much supplementary information that can help you beat your opponents. Here are questions you might ask yourself. In all cases, try to see the showdown when a hand goes all the way to the end.
READ ALSO: Poker Tips by George: Skills are the Key
Questions to ask yourself
To the best of your ability, try to determine:
- What kind of starting hands does he play? Staying to see the flop more than 25 percent of the time brands him as too loose – most likely to go home a loser in the long run.
- What kind of hands does he raise with?
- How often does he slow-play (to build the pot)?
- How often does he bluff or semi-bluff?
- Does he use the Esther Bluff?
- Does he understand the Hold’em Algorithm and the Hold’em Caveat? That is a good measure of his skills. (Play more cautiously against highly skilled opponents.)
- With drawing hands, does he use his card outs in making playing decisions? A well-skilled player knows how to calculate a Positive Expectation. (pot odds higher than his card odds)
Review your own betting patterns
In the aforementioned previous column, we listed some of the more common betting patterns. Do you often use some of these or others?
Take a short break from the game and ponder your own patterns. Do you think that some of your opponents are on to you? Would a few changes improve your results?
For example, I once used what I regard as the most common betting pattern: call (pre-flop); bet on the flop when my hand improved – usually to top pair with a strong kicker; and then bet again on the turn; but checked the river when my hand did not further improve. I realized my mistake: Using that betting pattern, on the river, I was offering a free card to opponents with weak hands who would otherwise probably have mucked their hands. So now, rather than checking on the river, I often play that hand more aggressively and open bet on the river. Small changes can make big differences.
Summing it up
As the game progresses, gather all the info you can about your opponents’ playing traits – how they play their hands. Add their betting patterns. Meanwhile, adjust your own betting patterns whenever appropriate. Put it all together, and win more hands than ever, and bigger pots to boot!