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Gaming Guru

 

Sizing Up the Game

29 January 2010

When I play Texas Hold'em if I get seated in an established game I will not play my first seven hands unless I am in the blind or I have a strong hand that I can raise with. I do this for two reasons. One reason is that I want to establish an image of a tight player. But more importantly I do this because it gives me time to evaluate the game and the players. The 15 minutes or so it takes to play the seven hands usually gives me enough time to get a general feel for the game I'm in.

The first thing I notice is the general atmosphere at the table. If most of the players are talking laughing or seem to be having a good time, then it usually means the game will be fairly loose. On the other hand, if everyone is serious and quiet it can mean that I sat down to a tight table.

Of course, this will be verified once I see how many players are entering each hand and putting the following information into my mental check list to identify the players.

How many hands are they playing?

It is very easy to tell if a player is loose or tight just by the number of hands they play. Even if they don't stay in until the end, you should note the number of times that a player will enter the pot.

What cards did they show down at the end?

You want to know the types of hands your opponents are playing and file this information for later. Do they like to play any suited cards, single aces, suited connectors or big cards?

What position were they in during the hand?

You want to note the position the player was in when they entered the pot. Are they playing weak hands from an early position? Loose players will play weak hands out of position and this is something you want to note. If a player is tight and then comes in with a raise from early position you can determine that they have a big hand.

Did the player raise or call before the flop?

You need to know the types of hands that a player will raise with or call a raise with. Anytime a player raises you should note their position and the hand they raised with. You should also look at the other players acting after the raise and determine what types of hands they will call a raise with.

Was the player the aggressor or did he check and call?

You should note whether a player is aggressive or passive by the number of times they raise or just limp in preflop. You also want to know the types of hands they may raise with or simply call or check with after the flop. Picking up on their betting patterns is crucial in reading a player.

Did the player slowplay or bluff?

Some players like to slow play hands or bluff more often. You should note if a player will limp in with pocket aces. Did they flop a big hand and try to trap the other players? Some players like to bluff or semi-bluff at specific times. Make a note anytime you catch a player doing this.

When you ask yourself these types of questions after every hand, you can very quickly gauge whether your opponents are good, whether they are tight, loose, and whether they are aggressive or passive players.

Railbirding

When you get to the poker room and sign in at the registration desk, you can't always get immediate seating at a table. You are put on a waiting list and your name is called when a seat opens up at the game you requested. Many players go grab a coffee, sit down and read, or just socialize with the other players waiting for a game.

When I get put on the waiting list, I make it a habit of finding which tables are dealing the game I am waiting for. Many times there are only a couple games going for the limit I want to play so it is easy to find the tables. I then find a place to stand where I can observe the tables. If there is more than one game going on I will take turns watching the different tables.

I make mental notes about the players at the table. I note what type of hands they are playing, along with the number of pots they are active in. I notice who is doing the raising and try to find out what types of hands they are raising with. When I sit down in the game, I know more about all the players than they know about me and, as they say, knowledge is power.

Until next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton