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Things To Remember

Reading hands well is a powerful poker weapon because it allows you to play correctly more often, according to the Fundamental Theorem of Online Poker Games. The better you read your opponents' hands, the less likely you are to play your hand differently from the way you would play it if you could actually see what your opponents had. Weak players are difficult to read because there is little pattern to their play. Good players are easier because there is logic to their play. However, very tough players are more difficult to read because of their ability to disguise their hands.

One way to read hands is to put opponents on a variety of possible hands and eliminate some of them on the basis of their play and the cards they catch from one round to the next, keeping track of the order in which they catch their cards. A second complementary way is to work backward, looking at an opponent's later plays in terms of how he played his hand in earlier rounds.

You can also read hands by using mathematics, by comparing possible hands on the basis of Bayes' Theorem. If you know an opponent will bet only certain hands, you form a ratio based on the probability of that opponent being dealt each of those hands. To simplify, you can divide his possible hands between those you can beat and those you can't beat. The ratio tells you which of the hands he is favored to have.

Finally, when reading hands you must consider the number of people in the pot. When there is a caller ahead of you, the caller and the original bettor cannot both be bluffing, so you must play on the assumption that you are up against at least one legitimate hand. When there is a raiser ahead of you with the same standards as yours, you should have more than your minimum raising hand to call that raiser because you have to figure your minimal raising hand is beat.



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