If you’re one of the thousands of players at the World Series of Poker this year, you’ve probably got some sense of how to read your opponents. Each of their actions has a purpose, and if you can find the pattern in what they do, you can probably figure out their overall strategy and make the necessary adjustments.
But what about when you’re playing online at Ignition Poker? Now things are a little trickier. You won’t be able to pick up any physical or verbal tells, and since all the tables at Ignition are anonymous tables, you can’t use tracking software to help you figure out the competition. That shouldn’t stop you from trying, though. You’ll still find opportunities to exploit your opponents if you look closely enough.
Timing Isn’t Everything
The most reliable way to get a read on your fellow players is to pay attention to the decisions they make on the felt. Those decisions fall into two categories: lines, and bet-sizing. The line a player takes refers to how she acts preflop (calling, raising or folding), and how she navigates the streets from the flop to the river. Bet-sizing is what it says on the tin: how big or small her bets are, typically measured in relation to the size of the pot.
In general, players tend to take the same lines when confronted with the same hands. But since these are anonymous tables you’re dealing with at Ignition Poker, you won’t be able to collect a large enough sample size on post-flop decisions during a session at the cash or tournament tables. What you can do is focus on pre-flop play. If you start your session and see a player opening the action several times in a row, that player could be on a strong run of cards, but it’s more likely that he’s opening a wide range of hands. When you find one of these opponents at your table, remember the mantra: Fold tighter, call down lighter.
Big bets can be a sign of aggression, too, while small bets (including min-bets) are often a sign of weakness. Some opponents will telegraph the strength of their hands through their bet sizes, so look for these players while you can, and make sure you use either uniform or “balanced” bet sizes yourself. You might even pick up some timing tells, based on how long it takes for your opponent to bet, but don’t put too much stock in these – your opponent could be multi-tabling or otherwise distracted, rather than struggling to figure out what to do in a marginal situation. Stick with the basic reads, exploit where available, and you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.