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What is your opponent likely to be thinking?

Understand your opponent

Let us start off as per usual by looking at a hand example to highlight a key point. The game is full ring no limit hold’em and you raise from early middle position with the Ac-Qc to 3.5bb. A player on the button calls you and we see a flop which comes Ad-8h-2s. In this situation then your hand is well ahead of your opponents range and so you should not fear being behind.

Now we need to look at the thinking process of our opponent and marry that to our action on the flop. In this heads up situation then we can either bet or check on the flop. Firstly our opponent has seen us raise from relatively early position. So if we check the flop then that will look mightily suspicious to them. They will fully expect you to c-bet this flop in a heads up situation as this is what they see countless other players do in similar situations. In fact your opponent may be less likely to believe you if you c-bet than if you check.

Understanding how your opponent thinks

This is where understanding your opponent and following their betting patterns can be very instructive. For example if you see a player bet when checked to after the checker raised pre-flop then you can consider checking the flop. This action allows your opponent to bet with a large part of their range and in fact they may even bet with almost all of it. Now couple that with an aggressive player seated on your left who likes to float players on the flop or even bluff raise them.

Here you can c-bet because the chances of them calling you are much higher. Then if this type of opponent calls your flop c-bet then you can assist them with their thinking by checking the turn whether you improve or not. This allows them to think that they have caught you with fresh air and that you are now scared into firing a second barrel. So you can in fact extract an extra street of value here and the key is to understand just how your opponent thinks and what they have done in the past.

Know that your opponents will be doing the same to you

To really quantum leap forward your understanding of the game then it is instructive to reverse this hand example and place yourself into the situation of the caller of the raise and not the raiser. In this example then a sophisticated opponent will be analysing how you think also. If they can get a line on how you think and what patterns you have slipped into in the past then this will allow them to play very accurately against you.

This is why you need to try very hard when you move up in levels to make each of your actions have multiple different meanings. This means balancing your ranges and also understanding how your opponent could be thinking and also how they think with regards to how you think that they are thinking…….if you follow my drift. This mental battle is what takes place at the middle stakes levels and higher stakes levels in online poker in games like no limit Texas hold’em and this is part of the sheer beauty of the game.

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