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Learn To Read Cards

Hand reading is a fundamental skill in poker and one that you need to have in order to be successful at the table. One way of doing this is to practise over and over using a free poker game. To hand read well you need to think about the process in logical terms and remember that the number of possible hands your opponent can hold only gets less as the hand progresses.

Essentially hand reading is like an inverted pyramid: you start with a large group of potential hands and as things develop you chip away at that group until you’ve only got a few options left.

For example, you may think that a player who raises pre-flop could have a pocket pair, AK, AQ, AJ or KQ. When the flop comes out: 4, 7, T and they bet you can start to erase some hands from their range. Indeed, they are unlikely to have pocket deuces or threes in this spot because they’ve want to keep the pot small. While they may have a hand such as KQ or AJ, they’ve also probably try and get to the turn as cheaply as possible and therefore just check.

Let’s assume you call and the turn is an 8. Here your opponent bets again so now you can remove even more hands such as AK, AQ and pocket fives.

On the river a deuces falls and the player bets for a third time. By now you’ve shown a willingness not to fold by calling all their bets, so it’s unlikely they are going to bet again unless they know they’ve got a strong hand.

Thus, in this spot they could have a set of fours, sevens, tens or eights. They may even have a pair of jacks+. Notice, however, that it’s very unlikely they have pocket deuces because they would be unlikely to have bet with them on the flop or turn.

As you can see hand reading in poker is a logical process of elimination which helps you define your opponent’s hand. While it’s difficult to get to a single hand they could hold, it’s not so tricky getting to just a few credible options.

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Last Updated 22 July 2014
Learn To Read Cards