Tuesday, June 30, 2009

4 Ways to Improve Your Hand Reading Ability

Hand reading is about trying to narrow down the range of hands an opponent is playing against you. If you can improve your hand reading ability you will improve your results at the poker table.

Here are some exercises to help improve your hand reading ability.

Importantly, You will lose your money in some of these exercises, so select lower limits. However, don't let the blind levels be so low that no one ever folds to a raise pre-flop.

1. Play a low blind, limit poker cash game and raise every hand pre-flop.
This is an exercise that Daniel Negreanu introduced many year ago and used to improve his play--he calls it Nutbar. This exercise will put you in a situation where the action and play revolves around you. You will feel the power of being in charge. It will also put you in the position of having to make difficult decisions.

2. Play in a small no-limit poker tournament, and raise pre-flop once out of every three hands.
Again, you will see how players respond to you. You will learn to be creative and build your hand reading skills. If you don't want to go this far, then widen your range of raising hands to any Ace-x hand, two picture cards, any pair, and any connector suited or not.

3. Watch a table of limit or no-limit poker for an hour and try to identify betting patterns and put players on hands.
Think about how you would have played against players, or what you would have done. This is easier to do online.

4. Do some player mapping.
The next time you play in a tournament, actually write down notes about your opponents, especially their betting patterns. See if they hold true, and if it helps you to play better. Again, this is easier to do online.

As you get better at putting your opponents on hands, your poker results will also improve.

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