Read Opponents Like a Pro in Online Poker: 7 Tips You Should Know

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Poker is as much a game of psychology as math. You need to be able to read other players on the table to play the game well.

Reading people is typically based on physical tells or the little mannerisms and changes in body language that can give away what a person is thinking or how they’re feeling.

You might imagine this gets tricky when you can’t see your opponents face-to-face, such as when you play online poker. But if you know what to look for, reading people online can be just as easy.

Here are ten tips on how to read opponents at poker games online:

1) Review their profile and track record.

Most online poker sites, like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room, hold searchable libraries of their members’ stats.

When you sit down at a table, it may help to do a quick scan of your opponents’ poker histories. Review their profile and see how long they’ve been playing, what stakes, and how many tables they typically play.

More regular players join more tables at a time, while more seasoned players play more high-stakes games. New or less experienced and more recreational players may have opposite stats.

2) Check the size of their stack.

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The volume of chips a player brings to the table can tell a lot about their playing style and experience. Regular, arguably better, players are more likely to have larger stacks since they tend to play more actively and aggressively and have the bankroll to support it.

Additionally, they would buy-in for the maximum amount to not be at a disadvantage. They might even use the auto-rebuy feature to keep themselves in the game if they bust out or their chips get low.

On the other side, amateur or recreational players are more likely to have smaller stacks since they are generally more conservative in their approach. These players often don’t want to risk too much of their bankroll and would rather sit back and wait for a good hand before playing it.

3) Observe their pre-flop betting habits.

The way a player bets pre-flop can say a lot about what cards they might be holding. If a player raises the stakes significantly before the first three community cards are dealt, there’s a good chance they’re holding a strong hand. Alternatively, it could indicate their advanced skill level and that they’re in the game to win.

Conversely, a more passive player, or one that calls the big blind or bets the minimum amount pre-flop, might be holding a marginal hand or playing the game for kicks.

4) See how much they bet after the flop.

More seasoned players tend to stay active even after the flop. These players typically bet no less than half the pot after the first round. This is because they want to build the prize pool and possibly scare off their opponents.

Meanwhile, more recreational players who tend to play the game for fun rather than profit are more likely to bet less or even just the minimum amount.

5) Observe how long they take to make a move.

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When it’s a player’s turn to act, experienced players usually immediately know what they want to do. They’ve already assessed their hand and the situation on the table and have decided accordingly. If they don’t, they would at least know to keep their timings consistent regardless if they’re betting, raising, or bluffing to prevent opponents from reading into their actions and decisions.

On the other hand, amateur players tend to take longer to make a move as they may be trying to figure out their best options on each hand. They could also be prone to making more snap decisions that could give away their hand strength.

6) Check the chat box.

Most online poker sites allow players to communicate via a chat box. However, this feature can be more than just a speaking tool. If you know about poker table talk, the chat box can give clues about your opponents and their hands.

Seasoned players know when to keep quiet and when to chat. They tend to stay silent more often and some even prefer to turn the chat box off.

Recreational players might not be as aware this is a poker tell and use the chat box to express their joy over a good round or vent about their bad luck.

7) Take note of their betting patterns.

If you’re observant enough, you might be able to read your opponent’s hands by the way they bet. While there are no hard and fast rules, some moves can indicate them holding a strong poker combination (or otherwise).

For instance, if a player seems to agonize over their decision and ultimately goes all-in, they likely have one of the best texas hold em hands. The expanded thinking time was probably their way of tricking you into thinking they’re bluffing a weak one so you would call their bet, and they could take down a bigger pot.

Some players might also trick their opponents by checking when they have a good hand and instantly raising when other players take advantage of this feigned weakness.

On the other hand, if a player calls almost instantly, it could signal that they are holding a hand that’s too weak to raise and too strong to fold.

It takes time and effort to master the skill of reading your opponents at the poker table. This is especially true when you play poker online. You’ll need to pay careful and close attention to every action and detail on the table to catch other players’ virtual tells. But we hope reading this quick guide was a step in the right direction.

Keep practicing these tips, and you’ll be a people-reading master in no time.