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Read Your Opponents Like a Pro

May 2, 2023
by Lex Veldhuis

In this video, PokerStars Team pro Lex Veldhuis shows how to navigate through poker tournaments by reading your opponents and watching for patterns in their play. In reading players’ actions, you can get an idea of the cards they have and whether you have an advantage.

Adjusting Play at New Tables

When moved to a new table, Lex emphasizes the importance of immediately scanning the table to identify any short stacks, as this heavily influences how you should play. Doing this will give you a read on the other players around the table. By watching how they play, you can start to see the type of hands that they have. Rather than making assumptions, take the time to observe the table and understand opponents’ tendencies before playing hands.

Playing a Short Stack 

Lex also provides guidance on how to play and read players when short-stacked in a Bounty Builder. While you generally want to tighten up to avoid busting, if stacks get very shallow (e.g. 5-6 big blinds), it can become profitable to shove a wider range. Your opponents may also do this so watch how their play might change and react accordingly.

However, be very selective with the hands you shove, as multiple players will often call. Try to avoid shoving dominated hands where you can. As stacks get even shorter, you can profitably call raises with a wider range, but continue to play carefully post-flop. Doing this will not only help keep you playing longer, but reading your opponents should give you a slight advantage.

Leveraging Game Dynamics

Lex showcases how to leverage game dynamics to your advantage in Bounty Builders. For example, he limps with the intention of shoving over an all-in from the big blind, knowing it’s likely players behind will call due to the allure of winning bounties. While this is a risky play, understanding players’ tendencies in this spot allows you to get all-in with equity when stacks are shallow, and helps read players with more accuracy.

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