Poker Articles!

A man typing on a keyboard, with question marks surrounding his hands.

Whether you visit a live poker room or enjoy a hearty session online, to have a successful poker session you must always be aware of your opponents. Learning to observe your opponents at all times is a fine art, and even the best players find it difficult to figure out their competition from time to time.

However, there are certain behavioral cues one can learn to observe to become a better profiler at the poker tables, especially when it comes to poker tournaments, and our Everygame Poker guide is here to help you out!

How to Profile Your Opponents When Playing Poker

There isn't much time for you to try and analyze your opponent's playing style when you're in the middle of a grueling poker match. Some say that it should take you about 20-30 hands to figure out whether you're dealing with a nit player or an absolute shark, but you need to pay close attention to every move your counterpart makes in your first hour of playing together.

When you meet a new player, you must do your best to notice the following things if you want to have your opponent figured out:

  1. Look at their general playing style – As you probably know, many poker players use a simple classification system to understand what kind of poker players are out there: tight/loose and passive/aggressive.

    The first few rounds should give you a general understanding of who you're dealing with, but this classification is a bit too broad. What if a player is playing tightly only to change tactics in the middle of a tournament to confuse you? Use this system only to form your first impression of your competition, but don't let it fool you in the long run.

  2. How do they act when they have a short stack – You can weed out experienced players from imposters by checking out how they act when they don't have many chips in their possession. Experienced poker pros usually follow a strict set of rules when they are at risk of losing all their chips, and when players deviate from those rules – that's when you can use their inexperience to your advantage.

    Players who keep small cards in their range or play too aggressively are those you might outsmart and kick out of the competition. Of course, you won't know whether players deviate from the appropriate short-stack strategy straight off the bat, but close observation can give you all the info you might need.

  3. What are their pre-flop raising tendencies – At the beginning of a poker event, when there are still a lot of players sitting at the table, raising pre-flop is an important strategy designed to build the pot, isolate weak players, and so on. However, as the game progresses, raising pre-flop becomes less important than other strategies like stealing blinds.

    That's why experienced players will start with big raises at the pre-flop stage at the beginning of an event and reduce the size of those raises the longer they play. Inexperienced players, however, tend to make needlessly large pre-flop raises in the later stages of the tournament, turning them into an easy target. Those players take a bigger risk when the stakes are high, which often means they make fewer raises. That means that when they do – they probably have a strong hand, and they are less likely to bluff.

Do You Think You Have What It Takes to Understand Your Opponents?

Use those three basic rules to figure out which of your opponents is a strong player and who is not, allowing you to adjust your own strategy accordingly.

Remember! At the start of every poker event or tournament, use the first few hands to learn more about your competition instead of focusing solely on your own cards.