Reading hands or plays in poker: tips and typical mistakes

Reading hands or plays in poker is not only the analysis of the community cards or cards that are on the table and that all players can see, but it is also about finding out what the opponent has in his hand by looking at his behavior, his non-verbal language or poker tells and especially his betting pattern.

However, you need to know how to do it. Therefore, in this post we want to go deeper into the strategy of reading hands suitable for all player profiles, offering tips that will help you to minimize the risk of incomplete information and to learn how to read the hands and moves of your opponents.

What is hand reading in poker?

Hand reading is one of the most important factors that you have to learn to master if you want to increase the chances of success in your games. This skill can make a player technically very good and therefore become the best in the current and future games, making him a regular winner.

The most immediate and clear definition of "reading hands in poker" would be to get an idea as close as possible of the cards with which the opponent is playing. Logically, the complication of knowing exactly the opponent's cards is very high, since it would be equivalent to playing with the same cards face up, but there are different ways to establish, more or less, what cards the other players at the table have. Next, we will give you some tips that will help you to read poker hands.

Tips for reading hands in poker


  • Be especially observant: one of the keys to success when reading poker hands is to be attentive to what is happening in the game. Do not lose detail of what the other players are doing, how they act or their position. This is the only way to get the information you need to read their hands.
  • Analyze the position: this point is of vital importance to understand how the hand will develop. Keep in mind that it is not at all the same to go out in early positions than in late positions, since from late positions you will be able to gather more information.
  • Analyze the opponents: knowing the other players at the table is another point that you should value, since it will help you to better interpret their poker tells, know how they think and establish patterns of behavior in certain situations.
  • Knowing how to apply mathematics to poker: whoever says that poker is a game of chance is very wrong. While it is true that chance has an important part in this game, poker can be "controlled" to some extent thanks to statistical and probability calculations that will help you understand the game and know which cards have been dealt and which are still to be dealt. 

Why to read flops

The flop is the first three community cards, those in which many of the hands of the game are decided. While it is true that the flop can give you a good play, you must also take into account that, as they are community cards, it is also possible that they have given a good play to your opponents. Knowing how to read the flop, then, becomes a very favorable skill for those players who know how to do it, since it helps them to understand the potential of the possible hand they and the rest of the players have.

What to take into account to know how to read the flop

To know how to read the flop in poker you need to take into account some factors:

  • How many active players are on the flop: think that the more players there are, the higher the chances of good plays.
  • What is the type of flop: if there are flushes, flushes or if the flop is "dry", that is, if there are no flushes or flushes. There are also single-color flops or flops with three consecutive cards, and so on.
  • How much money is in the pot on the flop: this point is important since it will influence whether or not players are taken out. The more money in the pot, the harder it will be to get players to fold.
  • How your cards relate to the flop: the connection of the cards you have in your hand with the flop is vital for you to develop your game both on the flop and post-flop.

Typical mistakes of reading hands or plays in poker


Reading hands, as we have already said, is not an easy task and most likely you will make some mistakes at first. However, don't worry, with time and practice you will be able to polish them. We explain what are the most common mistakes when reading hands or plays in poker so you can avoid them:

  • Not re-evaluating the situation: re-evaluating previous readings is necessary so that we do not miss important details. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that in poker we do not play alone, but we have to take into account that our opponents have the ability to carry out actions designed to deceive or confuse us. 
  • Not understanding the actions of our opponents: poker players tend to make the mistake of thinking that they know their opponents well and that, in addition, they do not know themselves in the same proportion. 
  • Not knowing how to read the ranges: this point is important to know how to read the bluffs of our opponents or to be able to make them ourselves with the certainty that we will not be caught. As the hand develops, we must avoid making the mistake of subtracting or modifying the ranges in play, that is, the set of preflop hand combinations in which we place our opponents. Of course, this requires a lot of experience.

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