In live ring games, players tend to lose interest when they are not involved in hands, and find their mind (and eyes) wandering elsewhere.
Unfortunately, too many players don't realize there's a plethora of valuable tidbits that can be learned during these moments after folding out of a hand.
This top list hopes to tackle this issue with five different techniques to keep your mind sharp after folding. It explains how you can improve your skills even when you are out of the hand.
5) Pretend to Be One of the Players
Presuming you have been at the table for a healthy length of time, target one specific player still remaining in the hand who has been a challenge for you up to this point.
In these cases, the opponent will not be concerned with your overt glare, since you don't present a current threat to his stack.
Try to get a feel for this person's attention to detail. How critically does he appear to be sizing up his competition? Is he constantly checking his own cards or trying to read the other players? Does he make bewildering facial expressions?
After making your own assumptions about how he is behaving, try to get inside his head and play the hand blind by guessing what you think his next move will be. The next time you are in a hand against him you will have more information to use.
4) Predict the Action
By learning to pay attention to where the action is coming from in terms of who has position, how the blinds decided to respond to any raises, and where any out-of-position raises come from, you should be able to predict what will happen on each street depending on the texture of the board.
Having a firm grasp of how these factors influence each hand allows you as a player to put your opponents on certain ranges and get a feel for their aggressive or weak tendencies.
If you can predict how certain players will act in or out of position, it gives you a huge advantage when you decide to make a move later on. This skill is as important in poker as any other and just like the old adage reminds us, practice makes perfect!
3) Calculate the Pot Odds
Doing this gives you many advantages. First of all, it forces you to be mentally active and sharp.
You have to be able to know how many chips have gone into the middle, who has invested how much (and from what position) and, depending on the board, what cards could still fall to give someone huge implied odds if they are drawing.
You're essentially doing math and deductive logic at the same time while trying to read your opponents.
Paying attention to the pot size also yields one more very useful nugget of critical information. If you notice a player strategically "pricing out" his opponents on scary boards, it often means that this is a savvy player with strong analytical knowledge of the game who should be considered a worthy adversary.
2) Watch For and Pick Up Tells
This one should be obvious but surprisingly, it is not. Many live-game players correlate folding to break time. They believe that since the hand is over for them, it means that the subsequent actions are inconsequential to them.
This is miles from the truth. Often the best time to pick up a tell from a player is when you have nothing to worry about and are cool as a cucumber.
The weight of decision making, and the focus in general, is on the other players, so take a moment to dissect every little thing they are doing that might be a subconscious slip. Try to notice subtle differences in their behavior or quick shifts in body language.
It is generally harder to find a tell when you are also in the hand and trying not to give anything away in your own actions while simultaneously processing endless amounts of other vital info. For this very reason it is smart to find your tells after you've folded.
1) Predict Each Player's Hand
In my opinion this is the most interesting element of folding a hand because when/if the players show down their holdings, you can gauge how close your reads are without actually investing any chips in the pot.
If you've folded pre-flop, pay attention to the players' eyes when the flop is exposed on the table. You may be surprised to see how long certain players stare at a flop or turn card when they like what they see.
If a given player is known to be a strong one who takes into consideration his opponents' holdings, he may also be trying to calculate the likelihood that his opponents are on draws.
Pay attention to repetitive scanning. Picking up any reads here should allow you to make a strong guess at what these players are holding. If you find you're right, your confidence will soar.
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