One of the most important keys to improving your poker strategy and skills is learning the right way to recognize and analyze poker betting patterns.
I like fish, I relate this to Texas Hold’em Poker for a couple reasons. First, I am making notes so I will remember all of the tasty morsels I have learned while playing poker games for the shorter term. Experience has also taught me how to fish so I will be able to sustain myself and my game for my entire career playing poker.
Believe one of the main reasons one becomes a successful player is by recognizing and analyzing poker betting patterns, so you get a better read on your opponent. I was able to figure out the way my opponents played based on each specific situation and determined all of their individual patterns. I feel as though I unlocked a key to some kind of magical realm containing all of my opponent’s poker secrets. Note the ways I learned how to read poker betting patterns.
The Best Ways to Analyze Poker Betting Patterns
There were a couple of different ways I used to get inside the heads of my opponents. I have learned the importance of developing both empathy and observation. Observation was a power I learned just by opening my mind, and by paying close attention to whatever is happening all around me. I learned the hard way I need to pay attention to a lot more than just myself.
The definition of empathy is understanding the way other people are feeling. Poker tournaments forever changed when I finally began to understand the importance of empathy. I have spent a lot of years playing the game at poker tables, earned my experience and understand poker rules. I have also learned how to speed up the process by using these particular skills in my daily life.
My first step was closely watching the play at the poker tables. This is how I started to learn how to read my opponents. I had to ask myself several questions regarding each opponent right from the start. This included:
The amount of experience each player possessed
The level the players thoughts were on
Whether or not the players understood all the factors when they made their decisions
I quickly discovered I was able to learn the majority of this information once I had observed the first couple of games. I began to wonder if the mistakes they were making were because they were beginners or if the players seemed like they actually knew exactly what they were doing. From this point on, I had a new habit every time I played in live poker games. I started listening to what the players were saying as they played.
Prior to having much in the way of experience, this was the way I started learning the poker lingo. Once I began enjoying playing poker online as well, I had to do my homework to learn what I needed to know about my opponents such as their success rates and the amount of time they had been playing.
As soon as I had a basic concept of whether or not each opponent realized what they were doing, I began taking notes in this very journal. I started out by making notes on the poker betting patterns of the players in the most basic of situations. This included:
Poker Betting Patterns
• The ways the players played pre-flop. I noted if they needed a strong hand to raise or if they used a marginal hand to limp along. I noted the players who stole the blinds in the late position and how often. Consider the frequency of the 3-bet, and how often the players stole from under the gun.
• I watched how often the players folded or checked after raising if they missed the flop. I noted which players bet just once prior to giving up on the turn. I figured out which players were capable of either double or triple barreling.
• I observed the way each play handled a draw. I noted which ones called or checked. I figured out who check-raised and why.
• I learned the actions of every player when they hit their draw. I noted which players went for the small value bets, who bet hard and which ones chose slow play.
• I discovered how each player handled a big hand, who went for slow play and who bet hard.
• I then learned how the marginal hands were played such as a middle pair or a top pair with a weak kicker. I watched who called once then folded, who called all of the streets, and which players defined their hand with a check-raise. I soon realized which players will not check or lead the flop when they are out of position.
• My final notation was which players will tilt easily when the game is not heading in their favor.
I learned a lot during the time I spent simply observing the game. Then I decided to explore the concept of empathy. I wanted to understand the reasons behind each player’s decisions, what I could learn about their overall game and what each decision they made could tell me about them. Even back then I knew these answers would provide me with the information I needed regarding their general poker personalities. I figured this would help in developing the right poker strategy once they became my opponents.
Common Poker Betting Patterns
Once I learned some of the best ways to improve my reads, I made even more notations regarding some specific betting patterns I needed to watch out for. I do understand no example is going to be accurate 100 percent of the time. I also know all of my decisions must be based on the way I read every single one of my opponents. I am simply trying to note a guide for the short-cuts I can use when I am observing the poker betting patterns most often used by the intermediate and beginning poker players I will face in my future Texas Hold’em Poker tournaments.
The Same Betting Size on the Flop and the Turn
I know when the player does not increase the size of their bet on the turn, they are usually showing weakness. Believe these players know they should make a bet but are fearful of making too large of a commitment. I usually see this with a poker hand such as a top pair or a middle pair with a weak kicker. I know I can usually win the pot by raising the bet.
Calling or Checking the Smaller Bet at the Turn
When a player first checks, calls, then makes a fast but really small bet on the turn, I know I am generally witnessing a blocking bet when the player draws. The player may have gotten a weak pair on the turn or already had the draw by the flop. They are making a small bet so they can make a cheap draw. This is when I must counter by charging the player more.
Call or Check and Check Min-Raise
I used to wonder the best way to read my opponent if they had a set. This line is fairly common for big hands just like a set. I have found this to be extremely true on a dry board such as 5d, 3s, 8c and Qd. My opponents usually slow play the flop. Once I have again bet the turn, my opponents figure out I have something. They try not to make a big bet because they do not want me to fold.
Pausing on a River Bet
I have learned which card is the river card. This is what has enabled me to put out the third flush card. Experience has shown me when one of my opponents makes an exceptionally fast call, they did not feel the need to consider their decision. They may have already made the decision to chase their flush. I have watched them start thinking once the flush actually hits. If they do not draw their flush card, this is a pattern indicating they are now bluffing because they missed their draw.
Big River Bet and Min Bet
I have seen this type of betting line most frequently in a limped pot when the draw shown on the board fails to hit. A lot of players will semi-bluff by placing a minimum bet on two streets. They then make a big bet if they have missed their draw to attempt to force the other players to fold.
The 3-4x Pre-Flop Raise for Players Generally Raising 3x who Usually Limp
I have witnessed this scenario a lot during live play. This usually means my opponent does not want to face the flop with their current poker hand. I am noting this is usually with an AK or a JJ. I have also seen this occur with hands such as AA, AQ, QQ and TT from an opponent who is afraid they may get cracked.
The Constantly Raising Aggressive Opponent with an Open Limp Pre-Flop
I have not currently seen this happen very often online. I have learned this is something I must keep my eyes open for in live poker tournaments. The player almost always has either a KK or an AA and does not want their opponents to fold.
Players always Placing a Continuation Bet on the Flop Prior to Checking
I have discovered this thought process is a lot like an aggressive opponent limping Aces. When a player almost always places a c-bet then decides not to check, I know I have to be extremely careful because they most likely have a big poker hand.
Once I started to understand many of the common poker betting patterns, I was able to figure out some of the others for myself. I must always remember the importance of poker betting patterns and observation in poker games. I know my own strategies have evolved as time has passed.
Experience has also shown me as I moved up in my stakes, my betting patterns started to change. I must remain prepared in case this happens again. I know if I continue picking up on the poker betting patterns of my opponents while staying observant I must also continue to ask myself why an opponent bets in a specific way. This is what will eventually make me a better poker player and make it in the WSOP.
Poker Betting Patterns – FAQ
What does it mean when they bet weird amounts in poker?
Pre-flop, it usually means JJ or AK because a lot of people don’t like playing those hands. You should be the opposite.
How do I recognize poker betting patterns?
When someone shows their hand, go back to how much they bet pre-flop, then the flop, turn and river. When you see this movie over and over again, reading them will become second nature to you.
What are the most common poker betting patterns?
Raise pre-flop and c-bet on the flop (can be made hand or bluff). Raise pre-flop and a check on flop (usually weakness). Raise pre-flop, bet flop, bet turn, bet river (usually good but not great hand).
Can you tell if someone is bluffing by the way they bet?
Sometimes. If it’s an amateur and they slam their chips or stare you down, it’s usually a bluff. Don’t trust this read with a pro because it could be a fake tell.