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Reading hands and tells

In this section we’ll cover:

Reading your opponents hand is like watching an episode of CSI. You know where the body ended up; you just need to figure out how it got there.

Step 1: The evidence

First, you need to gather your evidence. Watch your opponents for betting patterns. Are they loose or tight ? Aggressive or cautious? Do they take a long time to check or are they instant raisers? Remember, it’s downright dangerous to take action on just one piece of information so try and form an idea of their hand based on a combination of timing and betting patterns.

Step 2: The conviction

You need to make sure your evidence is all in line before you go in for the kill. A quick check or a delay followed by a check usually indicates weakness, while delay followed by a bet indicated strength. A sudden overbet on the river by a tight player after a bit of thinking time is almost certainly a sign of an excellent hand. Loose-aggressive players should be approached with caution as they’ll often make the same move to scare off their opponents.

Step 3: The back-up

While you’re out there taking down players by their tells, make sure not to reveal any of your own! Try to take the same amount of time (not too slow, not too quick) in meaningful pots and plan a couple of moves ahead so you can outflank your opponents.