How to Read Your Opponents in Poker

Poker is a card game in which players place bets based on probability, psychology and game theory. Unlike other casino games, players make bets voluntarily and for a variety of reasons. While luck plays a significant role in the outcome of any single hand, the long-term success of poker players is largely determined by their strategic decisions.

After all players receive their 2 hole cards, there is a round of betting initiated by the 2 mandatory bets called blinds put into the pot by the two players to the left of the dealer. Then, 3 additional cards are revealed (called the flop). There is another round of betting and the player with the best 5 card hand wins the pot.

A Straight consists of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A Full House consists of 3 matching cards of one rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A Pair consists of two cards of the same rank plus three other unmatched cards. And a Three of a Kind is three cards of the same rank. The highest Three of a Kind wins the pot, if tied the winnings are shared.

Reading your opponents is a critical skill in both poker and life in general. There are entire books written on the subject, and even professional sports teams rely on a team of psychologists to read their opponents’ facial expressions, body language and other tells. But reading your opponents in poker is more specific, and involves knowing the subtle signals they give off with their hands and chips.