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READING YOUR OPPONENT

Being able to read your opponent when at the poker table is a very handy skill to have. It can help you avoid a lot of tricky situations that could ultimately cost you a lot of money in the long run. Also, if you have the ability to know what type of hand your opponent has then you are in a very powerful position. Let’s take a look at some common tells…

THE MINIMUM RE-RAISE PRE-FLOP

Re-Raise - Raising an earlier raise or making the second raise in the same betting round

One of the obvious online poker tells is the minimum re-raise pre-flop, especially in the early stages of tournament play. You just need to ask yourself one question: Why has my opponent done this? Would they risk doing this to try and steal the pot with a marginal hand? No. Surely they can't expect the original raiser to fold to such a small re-raise? It's a classic tell of a big hand, usually done by poor/inexperienced players.

The fact of the matter is this player wants to build the pot and also wants action. This is a classic sign of A-A, although this won’t always be the case. I ran a test on this and when the cards were shown, the minimum re-raiser was holding a monster nearly every time.

Beware!


AN INSTANT CALL ON THE FLOP

Another standard online tell is an instant call on the flop from your opponent.

Imagine there is a middle position limper. You are in the BB and check with Qd 7c. The flop comes Qh 5s 6s. You are first to act and bet just under the pot where your opponent calls instantly without thought. This is a very good indication that your opponent is drawing. On this occasion they could be drawing to the straight or the flush. The reason they called instantly is because their hand has given them nothing to think about in terms of decision making. As soon as the flop came they knew what their hand was and what they needed to hit. They know they are probably behind but can easily outdraw you and win a decent sized pot. If you class the turn card as a safe card then it is probably best to bet big. The only exception to this is that your opponent has flopped a monster and will unlikely be outdrawn. Study the flop and make your decision.

Trust your instincts.


THE SHORT STACK

There is a simple way of reading the short stack for a possible big hand.

Imagine the blinds are 500/1000 and the short stack has 4000. Your opponent is in early/middle position and it is folded around to them. They now minimum raise to 2000, leaving themselves with only 2000 left (2BBs). This should be telling you that this person wants action. Ask yourself the question again: Why have they done this? We know they probably  wouldn't do this with suited connectors/A2/Q10 etc. They clearly want a call or a re-raise all-in. They are basically trying to build the pot with a big hand.

In this situation i would stay well clear unless holding a monster myself.

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