Being able to correctly analyze your opponent’s actions is a necessary skill for any poker player.Â Correct analysis will help you maximize your wins and minimize your losses, which is a fundamental goal of poker.Â Some things you must be able to do is realize when you are ahead, realize when you are behind, and realize when you have a chance to make your opponent fold a lesser hand.
I will give you an example of a recent hand I played where my opponent and I correctly analyzed each other’s hands, leading the player with the better hand to victory.Â I was holding [Ah][Jc] and made my standard raise preflop, getting one caller, a fairly tight player who would not recklessly throw his chips away.Â The flop came down [10s][5d][3s] and as I had been the raiser preflop, I bet out in an attempt to make my opponent fold his hand after he checked to me.Â After thinking about it, my opponent decided to call.Â My analysis here was that he was not confident in his hand, but he also wasn’t convinced that I had a hand either.Â I put my opponent on a pair of threes or fives.Â I was sure my opponent would have been more confident had he had top pair, and I didn’t see him on a draw, as he never would have called my raise preflop with the low cards necessary to land the straight draw, and had he had a flush draw he would have called sooner, as I had noticed him call a number of flush draws during the course of play.
The turn card was the [Ks].Â My opponent checked and I decided to fire another bet, as I sensed weakness on the flop and thought he might fold to a continuation bet.Â My opponent called fairly quickly this time, and I knew that the king had helped his hand. Â With the analysis I had done on the flop, I concluded that my opponent was holding either K-5 or K-3 for two pair.
The river card came down, and it was the [9s].Â My opponent bet out, but their bet was so small as to be suspicious.Â It was possible that one of his hole cards was a spade to give him the flush, but the bet was strange.Â The bet was so small that he seemed to be daring me to raise him, which led me to the conclusion that he did not have any spade, but was instead posturing with his two pair.Â I figured that his main reason for making that small bet was to limit the damage if I did have a spade as if I raised it was likely that I had a flush, but if he checked and I bet he would not know where I stood, as with no pressure having been put on me he would have had a hard time gaining information and may have made an incorrect decision.Â I decided to raise and make it seem as if I had a flush.Â My opponent went into the tank, but eventually made the call.Â He was holding K-3 with no spade for two pair, which easily beat my ace-high.Â I was right about my opponent’s hand, I simply underestimated his own analytical skills, as he was albe to correctly deduce my holdings as well.
This is an interesting example of what happens when two opponents with good analytical skills butt heads.Â Although I lost the hand, I was content, as I had correctly analyzed my opponent’s hand through his actions and had been involved in a high-level battle with a worthy opponent.Â The only piece of information I did not have was whether my opponent would call my raise on the river, and having had no knowledge of my opponent’s actions in prior river situations such as the one that came up, I had no way of knowing whether he would call.Â The chips I lost on my river raise was the price I paid for that knowledge and I will be sure to put it to good use should I ever come up against this opponent again.
I enjoyed this battle and look forward to all such analytical battles that come my way.