Hand reading at the table

NEMONEMO Red Chipper Posts: 6 ✭✭
Hey guys…

I’ve picked hand reading as my september focus.

I’m decent at it when using Flopzilla to practice off table, but I still suck when trying to do it live (online) at the table, where decisions must be made within seconds. Of course I can put my opponents on a realistic preflop range based on hud stats and observation, but when it comes to flop, turn and river, I kind of freeze while the countdown is running and end up making my decision based on my own hand instead of my opponents.

I’ve printed some range charts with 5, 10, 15 etc. % ranges and laminated those, so I can “remove” hands during play, but I really dont feel there’s time for that.

Off table I spend roughly 15 minutes to go through one hand - and I do this 2-3 times per day. I also watch a video or two about hand reading, but most of them are off-table - I haven’t been able to find much play and explain videos with hand reading as focus.

I play at least 1 one hour focus sessions with just 1 table open per day, and focus ranging my opponents in one specific situation. For example opponents calling 2-bet. I feel I’m getting a little better day by day, but I’m still in the conscious incompetent phase.

I’m wondering if there’s anything I could do differently, or am I on the right track?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Jakob


  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,056 -
    I think one of the most important developments in NLHE the last few years has been the recognition that understanding range advantage in some sense short-cuts some traditional elements of hand reading.

    If you watch someone like Berkey commentate on a game with hidden cards, he'll often say things like "with that turn card, X should bet here". He's doing this purely based on range-vs-range assumptions with no knowledge of the cards.

    At lower stakes it's arguable that your specific hand takes on more and more importance than your range, but simply asking yourself how the board interacts with your opponent's likely range can really add clarity to your decisions.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • PapaGiorgioPapaGiorgio Red Chipper Posts: 116 ✭✭
    Agree with Kat. Also, keep working through hands and doing your focused sessions. The more you do these, the more easily hand reading becomes in real time. I suggest focusing your off table study on hands that went to showdown so that you can check your read of the hand.

    Hand reading doesn't come overnight. Rather, it takes months of practice.
  • TheGameKatTheGameKat Las VegasPosts: 5,056 -
    One trick to get better faster is to hand read when you're not in the hand. It's easier.
    Moderation In Moderation
  • KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 114 ✭✭✭
    It sounds like you are already doing a lot more than most players, and certainly more than I have ever done.

    One of the challenges with using HUD stats is unless you have a huge sample on someone, you may only really know their VPIP. Knowing their ranges by situation and position requires a lot more hands.

    The major shortcut I use is to use myself as an anchor. I ask what range would I play here, and then adjust up or down based on whether the player is looser or tighter than me. If they are an overly fishy player I will add in hands that might look good to a fish.

    My VPIP/PFR at 6-max tends to be about 25/21. So if a 19/16 player raises UTG, I just give them my UTG range and take out the worst hands, like some of the smaller PP's and SC's. Same thing if I am defending the BB from a BTN open from a LAG. Just think of my button range and widen it up a tad. This works pretty well in 3-bet pots as well.

    I'm not going for perfect precision here. I just want to be in the ballpark.
  • elvidaelvida Red Chipper Posts: 12 ✭✭
    One of the best tricks that I have heard of is using Poker Tracker 4 to play hands with the show hole cards function off. Turn it off for you as well and then you can review ALL your hands and try to predict what your hand was. This works best if you have a large number of hands in your database. Since so many hands don't go to showdown and hand reading matters on non showdown hands as well, this provides you with the opportunity to practice. (Shout out to Jim Reid who mentioned this idea in a podcast).

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file