The best players in the world are those who can absorb and process minute bits of information about their opponents' tendencies and use what they gather to their advantage over the long run.
Most good players are fully aware of this and show high levels of analytic thinking during their sessions.
The difference between good amateur live players and their superior professional counterparts often comes down to the length of time they can sustain their focus and attention to detail.
Today's list offers five tips for keeping your mind on the game over the long haul using the most basic form of arithmetic - counting.
5) Count continuation bets.
Whether your whole table is feeling hyperaggressive or just one particular nemesis is particularly frisky that day, you need to pay very close attention to c-bets.
Who is making repeated efforts to take pots early with continuation bets on the flop? How often are they doing it?
The power of the continuation bet comes from the fact that if you don't believe the player, it is going to cost you to find out.
The more often you see the same move, the higher the chances you can pick him off when you finally have a hand or get a solid read.
If a player follows his pre-flop raise with a bet every single time, you need to be aware of this. Count his pre-flop raise-to-continuation bet ratio and keep track as best you can.
4) Count check-raises.
Similar to #5 above, the check-raise is an aggressive move that really challenges opponents and forces difficult decisions.
If you are aware of the frequency it's used at your table and who is most likely to use it, you can prepare your strategy accordingly.
By keeping track of this information you will also be more confident about what you will be able to get away with when you feel a value bet is in order on the river.
If you know your opponent cherishes the check-raise and you gauge your own hand's strength as dubious at best, you may save yourself some chips.
Since your opponent's earlier check-raises have made you err on the side of caution, you should also keep count of how many times you have used the check-raise during your session so that you keep your enemies guessing as well.
Self-defense turns to the offense!
3) Count seconds (time). This is often touted as one of the most obvious of online poker tells. A player taking much more or less time to make a decision, compared to their earlier behavior, should ring alarm bells. This holds true for live ring games as well.
Keep a mental record of how long each player tends to take before they act. Some players can't wait to exit a hand when they lose interest, while others are more methodical.
By paying attention to the average length of time each player takes, you'll be able to spot changes right away.
2) Count early-position raises.
If after five orbits in your first hour you've noticed a couple different players playing an exceedingly high number of hands from early position, you should take advantage and try to isolate them when the opportunity arises.
Normally an early-position raise should be taken as a warning sign of strength.
But if you're vigilant about paying attention and counting the table's overall tendencies, you may see this is in fact not a warning sign so much as it is an open invitation to grab your snorkel and have a swim with the fishies.
Opportunities like this are only available to players who are sharp enough to notice. If you're counting, you'll notice.
1) Count your own tendencies.
So, having made all these efforts to keep track of who at your table is doing what and when, you may have forgotten to pay attention to what you have been doing.
If your opponents are savvy players, then no doubt they're keeping track of you. So be sure to have a high level of self-awareness.
If people are making correct plays against you that they otherwise would have fumbled against someone else, it probably means that you need to step back for a second and ask yourself why.
Has your play become transparent and predictable? Do you know? You should if you have been counting.
Keep track of others but make sure to monitor yourself. Be creative and mix things up. For added effect, your chaotic play will lead many to believe that you are not as observant as you truly are!
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