Becoming a Poker Detective

Continued from: Position & The Gap Concept

You need to start thinking of yourself as a poker detective. You have to always be gathering as much information you can, in any form it comes in. You also have to learn to put that information to good use. With practice you will begin to be able to make educated guesses as to what your opponent is likely holding, or not holding, based on the way the hand has played out and what you know about the player. There are a lot of decisions made in every poker session. Good detective skills will help you to make correct decisions.

Poker Detective

Information will be leaked in many forms, too many to try to convey through written words. To become a top player you will need to learn to stay active even in the pots you are no longer contesting. You have to learn to identify player profiles (Is your opponent aggressive, conservative, tight or loose? Is he a gambler or is he really in the hunt to try to profit from his play?) There are certain things you can learn from just observing the mannerisms of your opponent. There are certain other things that you can only begin to understand about your opponent after playing many flops with him. As I have mentioned before, poker is a game about incomplete information. The player who is able to process and make good use of the information available is at a huge advantage over the player who is really only considering his or her hand, his or her chip position, etc.

There are many approaches that winning players utilize regarding the cards that they hold, but none of them can guarantee victory unless careful observation of the opposition is utilized. When we consider the strength of our own hand, we can only consider it in relation to the strength of our opponent(s) hands. A good player must learn to "put the puzzle together." You have to start to understand the motivation of your opponents' actions. You need to be aware of how a player acts under different circumstances.

When your opponent raises before the flop and then checks the flop, what does that mean? Has he or she missed the flop, or is your opponent trapping with a big hand? You have to constantly be aware of the other players playing styles. You should make mental note of all of the betting action up until the point that you're at, and you have to make educated guesses about what that action means. Most players have trends, or certain tendencies that they will stick to under similar situations. Some players even have physical tells (unconscious gestures that give away the strength or weakness of there hands). You have to begin to process this information in order to have maximum edge over the opposition.

Every stage of every play of every hand brings with it a plethora of decisions. The most important decision you will make in any hand of poker is undoubtedly whether or not to get involved with it in the first place. That brings us to starting hand requirements.

♣ Continued at: Starting Hand Requirements

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.