Playing against unknown players

It is difficult to play against unknown players. It is unclear how they play and you are forced to size them up quickly so you can make decisions when you are in a hand against them. Sometimes your quickly formed opinion of the player will be wrong, and you will make an incorrect playing decision based on that wrong opinion. But the more you play against an opponent, the more you will get a feel for how they play.

Here are some key questions to answer against unknown players

1. How observant are they?

Watch where their eyes are looking. If they are watching every player's movement like a hawk, they are more likely to be sharp than if their eyes glazes over in between hands.

2. Are they thinking?

Sometimes it is easy to tell if someone is thinking or not. Players who think are usually the sharper players. Players who look like all their actions are automatic are probably not thinking as much. Of course, the better players have learned to act quickly and not appear to be thinking, so it is sometimes difficult to tell who is thinking and who is not.

3. How old are they? Are they male or female?

As a generality, younger players tend to be more aggressive than older players. Men are more aggressive than women at the poker table. Without knowing anything else about them, use these stereotypes as an initial base in sizing up the player.

4. How many hands are they playing?

After a few hands, you will notice how many hands each player has played. For example, after five hands, if player X has limped in and saw each Flop, then he is probably a loose player. If Player Y has folded every single hand, he may be a tight player. If not, at least he is not loose. If Player Z has raised in three of the five hands and won all the ones that he entered the pot with strong starting hands, then that information is not useful. That is because many players would play the same way, whether they are good or bad players. If he was a bad player and got lucky getting dealt big pocket pairs in three out of the first five hands, then the play of those hands are automatic. You do not want to confuse winning three out of five pots with being a good player.

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