Using Basic Hand Reading In Low Stakes No-Limit Games

opponent reading

When your opponents play poker in a very simple way then life gets a whole lot easier.

This is especially the case if your opponents are deep stacked with at least 100bb. In full ring games with 100bb stacks and simple thinking opponents, hand reading is easy. Let us have a look at an example to show you what I mean.

It is folded around to the cut-off who makes it 3.5bb to go and you have the Ad-Jc in the big blind. While there is undoubted value in 3-betting, there is even more value in calling and allowing your opponent to keep his entire range in play.

So you call and the flop comes Ah-Qc-4s. If we give our opponents an average raising range of say 30% then we have around 80% equity on this board against that range. So we are a big favourite to have the best hand.

Now we have to choose which line of play makes the most money. In a heads-up situation, if we check, we will likely pick up a c-bet from our opponent which is with a hand that is weaker than ours. So donking into our opponent makes no sense as this allows him to fold the weakest parts of his range and call or raise with hands that are equally as strong as ours or stronger!

Our donk bet makes no money and now we need to look at the two remaining lines of check-raising and check-calling. Unless you hold the nuts, then you are only ever dealing in probabilities in poker and the basic probability here is that we are ahead on this flop with the information that we have at present.

Check-raising picks up the c-bet but it is doubtful whether raising makes us any more money either, as we will get called or re-raised by hands that are either comparable in strength or beating us.

We could extract an extra street of value by check-calling and our opponent may just fire another barrel. If they have missed the flop entirely then our profit potential here is limited to perhaps one or two streets at the most. Against a more aggressive player and one that is really tricky, suddenly hand reading gets harder. If your opponent is prepared to barrel all three streets with weak hands, then you are going to have to call down with hands that would be too weak against tight opponents.

Let us now reverse the previous hand and place us onto the button with the A-J and our opponent in the big blind. The flop comes A-Q-4 rainbow and if we give our opponent that same 30% range, we still have the same 80% equity. If we bet on the flop, it is for value and even if our opponent calls then we still likely have the best hand. If the turn card was the Kc and our opponent check-raised us then we can simply fold the A-J against a very tight opponent and our hand reading has been made much simpler.

At the lower stakes levels, your opponents will be less tricky than at the middle and higher stakes levels. This means that hand reading will be much simpler and this in itself allows you to be able to open more tables and to multi-table if you are playing online.

In fact this is one of the primary reasons for playing low stakes poker. In full ring games, especially, the mind-set of your average opponent will be geared towards tighter play. This is perhaps one of the greatest errors in thinking, made by players that cannot beat low stakes levels and that higher stakes levels are easier to beat because players “respect your raises” more. Not only is this wrong but if you cannot beat a game where hand reading is simple then you cannot beat any poker game.