Gathering information about your opponents at the poker table is one of the crucial skills required in live poker. Although one should never put too much value in physical tells as such, observing and understanding what your opponents are doing at the table can help you make more correct decisions along the way. So, here’s few practical tips on how to learn about your opponents at a poker table.
Observe Their General Demeanor
Simply observing a person and seeing how they behave at the table can tell you a lot about their poker background. People who have been playing for a while will usually be more relaxed, chatting with others, playing with their chips, etc. New players often stick to themselves and you can easily notice they aren’t feeling as comfortable.
This may not tell you a lot about their poker knowledge. They might be an excellent online player with zero live experience but, more often than not, people who don’t look comfortable are new to the game and are more likely to play a timid and cautious style because of the environment.
Keep an Eye Out for Bet Sizing
In live poker, it is all too easy to zone out when you’re not involved in a hand and stop paying attention. However, if you really want to learn about your opponents at the table, you should pay close attention to what’s going on even after you’d folded.
This is particularly true for bet sizing patterns. Many live players are very transparent with their raise sizes and some will only bet big or raise when they have the absolute nuts. The only way to know for sure is to pay attention and keep mental tabs. Once you see certain players have this tendency, you can safely avoid them when they come out firing and your hand isn’t that strong.
Engage in a Conversation to Learn About Your Opponents at a Poker Table
This may not be an option for everyone since we aren’t all that open to the idea of chatting with strangers, but if you can, talking with your opponents can be a great way to figure out how good or bad they are.
If they start talking about how math and books are all useless and how it’s all about what comes on the flop, for example, you can be pretty sure they don’t know much about the game – even if they appear like someone who’s been playing for a while. Of course, they could be a hardened pro trying to convince you otherwise but, in general, this is an extremely unlikely scenario.