Watch your opponents - always!
Let your opponents play for you
Every poker player, who plays seriously, knows that opponents can markedly affect the game. There is always an agressive player, a limper, a passive player and of course, there is always a fish. Sometimes it can be hard to know "who is who" and therefore it can be hard to defeat them. I think it's very important factor, no matter what type of poker you play or what stakes you play.
As early as you get to the table, try to watch your opponents carefully. Skilled players use also a poker tracking software with HUD, where they can see stats of other players and it helps them to make better decisions. But we won't take the software into account. Just you, your opponents and your mind. It can be difficult to watch every player at the table, especially if you play MTTs or at Full Ring tables. The less players behind the table, the easier it is for you to know your opponents. But again, try to watch them all carefully.
Watch for their style of playing. Even if you fold a hand, watch how it continues. Maybe you will see a great bluff from a tight player or a huge raise from limper. It can tell you a lot about their style and you will be prepared for the next confrontation with them. You will be prepared and they won't be able to surprise you with an unexpected action.
Also watch their starting hands (at the showdown). Again, even if you fold, watch how the hand continues. My experiences can tell you a lot about it. I've seen hundreds of hands which surprised me, but then I was able to asses ranges of my opponents more accurately. For example, once I was playing at NL2 table and I had my hand folded. I watched how the hand finishes and I was surprised. A totally tight player was simply checking and calling and at the showdown he won the hand with trash cards - he amazingly made a straight. With the first look it seems to be unimportant, but then I realized..."Maybe he plays trash cards often and I can adapt my strategy to him." Just give it a try and maybe you will be able to improve your strategy too. :-)
When I play, I also watch their "outfit" (sorry, I don't know to call it better). I watch their stack sizes - it can tell you a lot about the opponent. For example, if I see a player with a big stack, I am aware of it and I player more carefully against such player than against player who plays with low stack and looks like a total fish. Secondly I watch how fast are players actions. If I see a player who always makes a turn within 2 seconds, it can tell me that he: 1. is pretty sure about his hand, 2. doesn't make calculations or decisions, 3. is fish :-)
These are the main factors I always try to watch at my opponents. It helped me many times and on the other hand, it brought me sad times (when I forgot to watch my opponents). I had many tilts caused by not watching my opponents. For somebody it is unimportant, for somebody else it can be difficult to do with "tons of other decision and calculations". I am NOT a pro! I just share my impressions and experiences with you, hoping it will help you too. :-)
I hope I haven't forgotten something important. Please, feel free to write a comment or add something more to this article. And if you like it, feel free to share it. I'll be happy if people like my thoughts. The better your feedback is, the better is my motivation to write again. GL at the tables! :-)
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