Knowing Your Opponents

As we know, poker is a game of information. The more information we know about our opponents, the more we can exploit their weaknesses. It was a philosopher from England, Sir Francis Bacon, that coined the phrase, 'Knowledge is Power' - and this could be more true in a game of poker. How we build the information on our opponents differs, depending on where we are and who we're playing against. It is more difficult when your opponents are at the table for a short time, as happens in online poker rooms.  So how do you learn about an opponent when that opponent is one of thousands you’ve played that week?

There are options using technology and manually recording things. Every poker room offers a player notes feature which allows you to record information you pick up on your opponents. You can often color code a players style, which can help. This is helpful when you are playing cash games and come up against the same players frequently. It is not as helpful in tournament play, especially early on. In the later stages you will tend to find regular names.

If you are multi-tabling - you just won't have time to take meaningful notes regularly. Keep a 'black book' with names of players that you come up against noting patterns to their play, strengths and weaknesses, and any other information that you deem beneficial.

Of course, if you don't mind spending a little more to help with this, there are automated solutions - tracking software.  Software polls information gathered from every hand you play against opponents. Most software will display that information on your game next to the player it applies to.  At a glance you’ll see how often a particular player sees the flop, how aggressive they are, how often they win at showdown or how likely they are to fold to a turn or river bet. You will see player tendencies. It might be they are loose pre flop but don't often continuation bet on the flop. They might hardly ever defend certain spots. This information will tell you how aggressive or loose they are. This is all good information that can be used to make the play that has the best chance of success.

Online where you might not see the same player for months at a time, tracking software is indispensable as it has the perfect memory to help strengthen your attack.  After several months of playing, you’ll find yourself sitting at tables with 3 or 4 players that you have a ton of hands of information on. This level of information wouldn't have been possible to record manually. Even if it was, you certainly wouldn't have time to read your notes every hand to work out the right play. Whilst they might not remember you, you’ll have solid information on them, which gives you an advantage. 

Tracking programs can be a little pricey, but they’re well worth the investment.

It doesn't matter whether you are playing online or live. The most information you have on your opponents, the more information will be at your fingertips - the more informed your decisions will be.


Important Beginners Guides..

Read this no nonsense guide on how to play poker - covering the basics and game play. Perfect for those starting out.

A no nonsense guide on how to play poker. Ideal for beginners looking to learn how to play Texas Hold'em.

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