Focus on your opponents – try to get a sense of how the players at your table are playing. Are the loose, tight, on tilt? See what hands they are playing in each position. Does Seat 2 chase flush draws with bad pot odds?
Go Left – The players on your left are the most important to figure out, as they always act after you. Create a small mental checklist for each player.
- How do they bet, do they place their chips differently with different hands?
- Do they vary their bet sizes with different hands?
- Do they look strong when holding a big hand?
- Do they look weak when holding a weak hand?
- What type of hands do they play in each position?
- Are they more confident after winning a few pots?
- How do they cope with winning a pot or losing pot?
- Try to put them on specific hands and range.
Counting Pots – As above it's also important that you always keep track of the pot size, this will help you choose the best bet size. Whilst in a hand, you can ask the dealer to spread the pot, if you want to see how many chips are in the middle.
Watch the Action (in a hand) – It's even more important to watch the action when you're in hand, so you can replay the action during later streets. Did the player in seat 7 check the flop? If you do not follow the action you will be able to use this information to your advantage in later streets.
Researching players – make your own decisions do not listen to others, just knowing someone's results is not going to tell you how they play. A tight solid player may have $5 million in cashes, but at the same time a super aggressive player may have the same $5 million in cashes, so it really doesn't give you any good information. You must form your own opinion of each player at the table.
Qualifiers and Pros – This is probably the only thing you really need to know about your opponents. Are they a Pro, Qualifier, Business Person or Recreational Player. You'll still need to form your own opinion of each player, this will just give you a basis for their skill level and let you know if you can apply a little more pressure or not.
Tilt – If you're prone to tilt after a bad play on your behalf or a bad beat, take a break, missing a few hands is far less important if you're going to risk your stack in the next few hands on a bad play. Take a break, go for a walk, calm down and come back refreshed & focused. Remember everyone makes mistakes and everyone gets bad beats.
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