Betting Patterns: A Logical Approach to Poker
We’ve talked about betting patterns at various points in this course so far. It’s time to look at it in a bit more detail.
Betting Patterns are where we can watch our opponent’s actions and use them to build up a story to help us work out what hand our opponent has and what he is up to.
The story that we build up from tells and betting patterns is what we use to make the correct decision before our action, so it’s an important subject that directly impacts our profit.
Build up the Skill
It can be overwhelming to start with to watch all the players at a table all at the same time. This will be a skill you build up over time and eventually it will become second nature to you.
To start with, concentrate with the players at the table that will be most important to you:
- The two players to the left of you – which act after you
- The player to the right of you – who acts before you
Once you feel comfortable then you can start to branch out to the other players at the table.
Observation & Betting Patterns
Betting Patterns are where we look for common patterns in our opponents actions which help us to identify what they are trying to do and what hands they might have.
So what should you be watching for:
- What kind of hands are they raising with?
- How often are they slow playing hands?
- How often are they bluffing?
- How do they act with certain types of hands e.g.: big pocket pairs etc?
- What size bets are they making with particular hands?
For example, if you observe a player who is very tight, doesn’t raise very often, never slow plays hands, never bluffs etc, and he comes in with a large raise, then you can safely put him on a big hand and you may want to get out of his way in that hand.
Lets take a look at a few more examples of the kind of things you should be watching for:
How many hands do they play
Seeing how many hands they play will give you an indication of the kind of starting hands they are willing to play with, someone who plays a lot of hands is unlikely to have premium hands each time, so that shows he is willing to enter a pot with more marginal hands. And the opposite is also true; a player who plays few hands will be waiting for premium hands to enter a pot. Vital information to give you a head start in trying to work out what hand your opponent might have.
What hands do they show down
This really is a wealth of information, if you see their hand in the showdown at the end, think back to how they played the hand. Did they slow play with a monster hand, or were they aggressive with a weak hand? Make a note of this information, it will come in handy next time your in a hand with this opponent.
Callers or Raisers?
Do they like to enter a pot by raising or do they prefer just to limp in? A Player who enters with a raise a lot means you should be more wary of playing marginal hands in front of him, as he may well raise and force you out of the pot. A Caller is more likely to be a weaker player
The One Bullet Gun Bluff
Some players who are aggressive before the flop, will be aggressive again after the flop with a continuation bet, but then if they get called will fade off and not bet on the turn. This is a huge betting pattern tell as once we have identified it we know exactly what sort of hand our opponent has. If he is the aggressor and then suddenly doesn’t bet on the Turn then the pot is ours for the taking, if he does bet on the turn, it probably means he actually has a hand.
The above are just a few examples of types of things to look out for with betting patterns. The key is to piece together the information your opponent is sending you and try and decide if it all makes sense, then try to work out why your opponent has acted like that, is it a trap or a genuine sign of weakness? Does something smell fishy, can you sense a bluff?
Time to Up the Stakes
If you have been following the Poker Bankroll Challenge you should have now turned your initial $25 stake into over $100, which is great and has allowed you to put your new strategy in to practice.
Now that you are comfortable using your strategy we are going to step up your poker bankroll from the low stakes to the next level and start to really rocket your bankroll towards the $1,000 target we have set ourselves.
Up until now we have been playing on quite low stakes tables at 2cents/4cents. During the next stage of the bankroll challenge we are going to move onto slightly higher stakes tables, but don’t be intimidated, we’ll move up in stages and build your bankroll as we go, you have a very powerful strategy and as long as you stick to what you have learnt in this course, you will be just fine.
Continue to look to select the most profitable table by looking at the Players/Flop statistic but as we move up in the stakes this will naturally start to become a lower percentage and at these increased stake levels anything over 20% is a good choice. From now on as well you should also pay attention to the AvPot (Average Pot Size) statistic as we also want to select a table with a high average pot size.
Poker Bankroll Challenge: Stage 7
- Stakes: $0.05/$0.10
- Buy In: $10 (100 x BB)
- Starting Bankroll: $103
- Target: $50 (5 x Buy In)
- Finishing Bankroll: $153
- Estimated Sessions: 5
Use these practise sessions to really start to observe your opponents, can you spot any betting patterns on show? Each time you are not in a hand, watch what is going on and try to predict the outcome and the hand players have got, and each time the cards are shown see if you are right.