Putting players on poker hands, Part I

April 29, 2017, Al Spath  

When sitting at a table and watching the betting, think about what cards a good player would play under the gun or in early position.

So, when UTG players raise to start the betting, you should assume they have something along the lines of a big pocket pair or big suited/unsuited connectors and one-gappers such as A-K or A-Q. If the player is noted for being overly aggressive from any position at the table, certainly include mid pocket pairs and hands such as A-10s, suited connectors or even two face cards.

However, if the player who raised has a particularly tight image, expect top cards.

Conversely, those who weakly and improperly limp into pots from early position, usually can be put on drawing hands (such as small pairs, connectors and hands such as any suited ace.

These hands play much better in late position, with lots of callers, not in early position with many players yet to act.

It’s important for you to be aware of opponents’ style of play (solid, weak, bad, loose, overly aggressive) to make your reads more accurate.
Also, it’s vital to watch opponents play, whether you’re in the hand or not, and try to understand why they bet and the amount or why they checked in certain situations. Mental notes on players can be helpful in this area.

As you go around the table after the pot has been raised, players calling are providing you much-needed information. To call a raise, players generally should have pretty decent starting cards, but why they didn’t reraise should be your question.

They may have a drawing hand and are trying to induce others to follow them to build a pot.

Most players holding a quality hand would reraise, not call in those situations, so you can range those that call easier by generally eliminating a Group I-type hand.

Holding a top hand, they would want to reraise to thin the field, isolate the early raiser and have position on them.

When a player in the blinds voluntarily calls or reraise, a huge hand can be expected in most instances.

Sure, there’s the occasional squeeze play, hoping to bet enough to steal a substantial pot every now and then, but generally expect the a blind reraise to mean it’s a hard-to-beat hand.

Look for Part II next month.

— Al Spath is the former Dean at Poker School Online and continues to teach poker online and live. His free YouTube Poker Channel (Al Spath) has hundreds of instructional videos to view. Al’s live broadcasts are on TwitchTV: follow (PositivePokerInsiders). Contact Al directly at alspath@alspath.com with questions coaching inquires.