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Hand reading in online poker made simple


Hand reading in the game of online poker is made out to be a rather complicated affair. Truth is that hand reading is no different to putting a puzzle together.

If you are able to suss out the right clues and make some educated guesses, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what hands your opponents have.

The art of hand reading is based on deductive logic. Players observe the data around them and how the opponent is playing. From there, the player can compare the data observed from past experiences to form an assumption about how the opponent is likely to play his next move.

Based upon these assumptions, the player should be able to interpret the opponent’s actions and zoom in on possible holdings.  Although experience as such cannot be taught, some reasonable assumptions can easily be formulated.

How to make basic assumptions in hand reading

There are some basic assumptions about your opponents’ play that need to be somewhat true for simple hand-read to work. These tell-tale signs will help you make a good solid assumption on your opponent’s next move and hand.

A very obvious tell-tale sign is that your opponent would not make thin value bets. In fact, he will act confident that he has the best hand and that you are likely to call with a worse hand before he will make an attempt at betting for value. The more shy your opponent is, the more effective your hand-reading technique will be.

Another tell-tale sign is that your opponent would not attempt to turn a made-hand into a bluff. If the player thinks he has a chance of winning at showdown, then he will try to get to showdown cheaply without moving you off of your hand. When he does bluff, it’s probably because he has very little chance of winning.

The final tell-tale is that your opponent would not chase a drag with bad odds.   The odds might not be obvious if he is banking on implied odds or on the chances of bluffing later, but he will not call a pot-sized turn bet on gut instinct.

You need to determine how accurate these assumptions are to a specific opponent. Most of the time, these assumptions are quite true.

How to categorise an online poker hand

The idea behind a simple hand reading technique is to narrow as much as possible his range to one or perhaps two categories:

Monster hands: These are hands where your opponent is aiming to go after a big pot. This doesn’t mean he’s bound to raise at every opportunity but rather, that he is very confident that his hand is the best.

Showdown hands: When it comes to showdown hands, your opponent thinks he has the best hand, but not aiming to build the pot. This means that the player will exercise pot control, and checks when they can and call when they have to.

Bluffing hands: This category refers to hands that require some improvement or else a bluff for the chance of winning the pot. This does not refer to draws such as a four of a kind but to any poker hand which has little or no showdown value.

Although they are rather broad poker categories, they can give you quite a bit of guidance when it comes to making your next poker move. Eliminating one of the above poker hands from your opponent’s range can easily sway your decision to either call or fold.

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