A crucial aspect to develop when playing poker is, how to read an opponents’ hand range effectively. This will help you make effective decisions at the table. So, as an experienced player, you should be able to establish your opponent’s tendencies and interpret his actions. Doing this will help you establish the opponent’s hand range relatively accurately.
One aspect that can help you determine this is his betting pattern. Each time you witness a showdown, it is essential to look back through the bets that your opponent has placed through the various rounds in the game. Here are other aspects that you should take into consideration when establishing your opponents’ hand range.
Determining the starting hands
The first step in reading the hand range that your opponent holds is to determine the criteria for his starting hands. His hands can range from being tight to having 2 cards (almost all). Most often, players have the tendency to play more hands when they are in position than if they were at the big blind. However, others may not change their starting hands in relation to their position. So, assess the number of hands played by your opponent and compare it with starting hand charts. This will provide you with sufficient information on the possible holding that the range points towards.
Tendency to raise and call
The second step that can help you determine the range of hands your opponent has is to analyze his tendency to raise and call. Assess the type of starting hands that he opts to raise with and the ones that he has a tendency to call. Some players may even check the blind with their hands. A type of hand that you should pay attention to, is that which an opponent may be likely to re-raise at the pre-flop. Ensure that you note the hand types that you make observations on, as it can help enhance your game.
The next aspect to be taken into consideration is your opponent’s behaviour post flop. Some players may establish a predictable pattern during the game. For instance, the player may bet when he hits the flop or calls or checks when he misses the flop. Other players may bet irrespective of whether they have hit or missed the flop. This behaviour however, may be shown only when the player is in position. By assessing the player’s over all tendencies post-flop will help you bring down the hand range possibilities. Ideally, you should bet when you are checked by a tight opponent. This is because, such players have the tendency to raise a strong hand. However, an aggressive opponent’s behaviour should be assessed more carefully, especially when you determine that he has a strong hand. For instance, such a player may unexpectedly check to you at a flop if he has a strong hand.
Another crucial aspect to be considered when analyzing your opponents’ betting tendencies, is the size of the bet. When players have a draw, strong or weak hand, they may be likely to bet a specific amount. This amount is typically related to the pot size. So, it is important that after a showdown, you work backwards through the opponents’ hand. Another aspect in relation to this that can be used to determine an opponent’s hand range is the frequency with which he bets.