You look into your opponent’s eyes just as they are making their bet. They have sweat on their brow and their hands are shaking. They snap their wrist as they toss their bet into the pot.

You think they seem nervous so you make the call only to find out that they have the nuts and get your entire stack. This is a disappointing feeling in poker. When you make an incorrect read on the strength of an opponent’s hand, it is one of the most upsetting feelings in poker.

That’s what you get for trying to follow physical tells on your opponent instead of watching their bets and reading what they are saying with them.

One of the biggest mistakes a poker player can make is thinking that live physical tells are valid for any reason whatsoever. If you have a 100% positive read that an opponent always shakes nervously when they have strong hands, then that’s a different story. When you begin to base your calls and folds off of what your opponent does with their body instead of the different variables of the hand you being to make a margin of huge mistakes which will cripple your bankroll.

Don’t think that physical tells aren’t really worth paying attention to, because they are very real and will definitely show up a lot in live poker. They are nothing compared to what your opponent will tell you with their bets though.

When a player has a good hand they will try to make a convincing bet that is reasonable to call. When they simply call your bet they are probably have a weak made hand or a draw. When they check/call on a flush draw board and then bet out when the flush comes in then they probably have a flush. All of the different actions that your opponents can take with their hands will be very obvious as long as you know how to break down the different streets and see what their bets symbolize about the strength and type of hand that they hold.

The next step to reading a player’s hand is learning to capitalize on knowing what they have. Whenever the action that they take on the river is suddenly different from the actions that they were taking before and the dynamics of the board have randomly changed, then you should probably rethink making a call or betting at them. Whenever a player makes a bet that doesn’t add up with the other bets that they have made you should probably raise them because the bet doesn’t signify any reason behind it and seems kind of weak. Regardless of the many different situations that could come up you need to focus on only making decisions about the strength of your opponent’s hand based on the line of bets that they have made at you. This is the only sure information that you are offered.

Overall you need to make sure that when reading a player’s hand you are focusing on narrowing down the range of hands that they have and how your hand holds up against that range of hands. If the bets tell you that the range of hands that player could have are stronger than your current holdings and not weak enough to make fold then you should get out of the hand. You need to be sure to focus on what they are telling you with their money and you will never go wrong!

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