Using your reads against your opponents

  • Thread starter Dorkus Malorkus
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Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

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We hear quite often about how important it is to have reads on a table. We also often hear about the basic reasons as to why this is – very simply and generally because we want as much information as we can get on our opponent’s tendencies in order to better establish how to play against him.

The thing is, a lot of advice that is spouted out is very general, and mind-numbingly obvious to most people. Things like “treat bets and raises from loose-aggressive players with less respect” or “don’t call raises from a rock without a very big hand”. Well duh, thanks Cpt. Obvious.

I aim, in this topic, to relay to you all something that I myself only really ‘discovered’ a few days ago. It’s possible that it’s already been documented in books, and it’s probably common sense to advanced players, but I’ve never personally actually seen it written anywhere. The satisfaction of finding something like this out for ‘myself’, so to speak, was more pronounced than the satisfaction I’d get from discovering something new through reading a book, or suchlike.

The simple principle is as follows.

“When you yourself make an unusual play that you know your opponent typically makes in a certain situation and with a certain type of hand, your opponent, assuming that he is not a very advanced player, is likely to think that you are in the same situation and have the same sort of hand that he would have if he were making the same play.”

Let’s say your opponent often leads with very small bets with a flopped draw. If we make a small bet on a flop, especially if we don’t often do it, one of two cases is likely to apply…

1) Our opponent hasn’t been paying any attention to us and automatically assumes that our small bet means the same as his small bets mean. Therefore he will think we are likely on a draw.

2) Our opponent is a slightly better player than in 1), and he’s been observing us. He sees us make a small bet that he notes we haven’t made before, and again, he believes that we may well be making this small bet with a draw, most likely because he doesn’t see a small bet with any other type of hand as feasible (because if he himself only or regularly makes these small bets with draws, it’s likely the only holding that a small bet ‘makes sense with’ to him).

Your opponent therefore puts you on a draw and raises big (either as a bluff or with a hand, it doesn’t matter), but in fact you actually have a very strong hand and can come back over the top. Your opponent could then still be ‘stuck’ in his beliefs and continue with a moderate hand, stubbornly thinking that you ‘have’ to have a draw because of your small flop lead, or he could give up, but it doesn’t really matter either way because you’ve either won or are very likely to win a pretty sizeable pot.

Obviously in situation 2) if we have to show our hand down our deceptive value has gone for the near future at least. Dragging in a big pot should be reasonable compensation for this, however. :)

Of course, when you come up against more advanced players you have problems because (a) they won’t be thinking on such basic levels, and (b) they will be changing up their play, so for example a small bet will not be indicative of one particular type of hand. Against total donks, uncultured players, or even intermediates, it can however pay to use your reads on your opponents betting patterns to gain some deceptive value by mimicing their betting patterns with holdings which are the opposite of the types of hand that your opponents makes the exact same play with. If your opponent has overbet bluffed rivers with missed draws a few times in a session, overbet a river with a big hand - he will invariably be more likely to call an overbet than a pot-sized bet with something marginal, as it "looks like a bluff" to him, because if he were in your shoes, it would be a bluff!

I’ll post a hand when I get home (I'm at work at the moment, so if this is horribly phrased in places blame the fact that I'm trying to look like I'm doing something productive). For me, it’s a real ‘landmark’ hand, because I can pinpoint it as the exact moment all the above came together for me.
 
shinedown.45

shinedown.45

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great post DM, I will definately remember this +rep
 
Irexes

Irexes

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What do I think he has?
What does he think I have?
What does he think that I think he has?

You are describing effective manipulation of the second one here DM based on your opponents lack of empathy (either through lack of experience or due to psychological disposition). There are plenty of people who are unable to appreciate that other people may see exactly the same situation in a different way than they do and therefore behave differently. Understanding that some people lack this capacity has helped me understand why some of the more challenging people I deal with at work seem incapable of compromise.

By tapping into this phenomena you can as you say induce a desired behaviour.

Of course there are more sophisticated players who will get this but as these are likely the same players who are paying attention to your change in behaviour it's still valid. Of course they may be up to something as well and this is where the third statement kicks in. "What does he think that I think he has?" this is where your opponent is not only viewing your bet as a product of your own hand but also as a product of what you think he has and is making decisions on that basis.

Back to your point though. This in some ways goes to explain why some people make ludicrous calls of all-ins on the flop with not much more than air, because if they were to make such a move it would indicate a bluff or a draw so they happily call thinking their 2nd pair is good.

I've a friend I play a lot live and we've almost paralysed ourselves into inaction trying to outthink each other by sending misinformation and confusing lines when we end up heads up.

Be interested to see the hand you describe :)
 
Irexes

Irexes

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Incidentally I don't claim for a second to have fully understood/internalised the implications of what you describe or what I'm describing. I have heard topics in this area discussed by pros as being watersheds in terms of understanding the game though.
 
joosebuck

joosebuck

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I've a friend I play a lot live and we've almost paralysed ourselves into inaction trying to outthink each other by sending misinformation and confusing lines when we end up heads up.

the beauty of poker.
 
smells_flushy

smells_flushy

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Great post. I'll remember it, but I don't think i should put too much emphasis in this. Thanks for sharing. Greed would have made me keep it to myself :)
 
tnt72

tnt72

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Very good post.. I've been working on this part of my game lately. So this will definitely help. Thanks:) T.



____________________________________________________

IT'S NOT PARANIOA IF THEY'RE REALLY AFTER YOU!!
 
Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

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pokerstars No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t400 (2 handed)

Button (t6661)
Hero (t6839)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 7c, Tc.
Button calls t200, Hero checks.

I don't mind just checking and seeing a flop with a speculative hand like this, obviously

Flop: (t625) 8c, 2c, 4d (2 players)
Hero bets t400

Villain had minbet out at practically every flop when either checked to or when first to act. As we know "most hands miss most flops", and from a couple of hands previously I had established that he doesn't minbet these flops with a big or even a decent hand (I'd called and led a blank turn when checked to in position with nothing a while ago just to 'test' him). I have a pretty big hand here - it's HU and with these blinds/stack sizes I may not see many better flops, and thus have any better opportunities to try this. I minbet because he will see it as a sign of weakness. If he shoves I have an awkward decision, but I'm confident he won't shove unless he has something, as serial minbetters have problems with putting all their chips at risk with weak hands or nothing at all (hence I'd fold to a shove). I expect him to make a small raise here or make a small turn lead when I check to him. In either case, my response will be to poooosh.

Button raises to t1200

Exactly what I expected to happen. He thinks we're weak, he's previously folded to a raise like this from me having minbet himself, so he probably thinks I will do the same.

Hero raises to t6414, Button folds.

Weeeeee! I really, really don't think I'm getting called here, but I only make the move because I have a good hand to back it up with (flush draw + overcard + backdoor straights).

Final Pot: t8239

Results below:
No showdown. Hero wins t8239.

I guess this also serves as a guide to how to play those annoying guys who minbet every flop, too. They used to tilt me quite a lot.. :/
 
SHERMSTICK

SHERMSTICK

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Very Helpful

Hey DM:




That was an very informative post that i'll surely try to use to my advantage, it's just that speaking for me- when im at the table's sometime's all the data that i've gathered seem's to go out the window, an I tend to start to try to re-invent the wheel:D forcing hand's to fall my way. I want to thank you though for helping me patch 1 of the hole's i've got;) .





SHERMSTICK:cool:




SHERMSTICK:cool:
 
aliengenius

aliengenius

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In psychology I believe it's call "transference" -- the same reason a chronic bluffer always thinks that you are bluffing.

In one of my home games I had a similar epiphany: one friend was always accusing me of bluffing and calling me down.

This was all fine and profitable, but I it went a step further when I realized that he was very often the one on a bluff and started picking him off.
 
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