Pre-flop Hand Reading Techniques

Pre-flop hands play a crucial role in games like Texas Hold’em where the combination of cards you decide to go with at this juncture of the game could very well be the deciding factor of the showdown. Everything you do in poker from the moves you make to the strategies you make use of, they all come down to having the right poker hands, using them appropriately and knowing what you opponent has in store. This is where you will have to learn pre-flop hand reading in poker because it gives you a clear idea of what you are up against and how you can tackle it.
Pre-flop hand reading is another of those slightly complicated aspects of the game which you must incorporate in your plans if you wish to take the game deep and stand a chance to win the pot. While the cards you hold could get you close to the showdown, pre-flop hand reading tells you exactly about the possibilities you hold and whether or not you should cut your losses. Pre-flop hand reading isn’t all about carefully dissecting your opponent’s moves though; it is also about drawing conclusions about the cards you hold yourself and how you can interpret their strength or weakness.
Importance of Pre-flop Hand Reading and Possible Outcomes
If you understand hand ranges, you’re an edge ahead of your opponents because you can better predict the hands they hold. By knowing the poker hands you’re playing against, you have a better chance of accurately calculating the various possibilities that could turn out in that particular game. Even though you’re playing online poker, you aren’t playing against algorithms that match your moves without logic.
These are real players looking for the slightest opening in order to get an idea of the cards you hold to execute their strategies. You will sometimes see players holding mediocre hands and still continuing. Similarly, you may also notice that players with strong hands could choose to fold. This is precisely why it is important for you to read pre-flop hands fairly and then decide how you’re going to play your hands. Keeping this in perspective, let us now address specific situations.
  • The Nit
While playing poker, you will often come across terms used to refer to players that play a certain way, and ‘nit’ is one of the more popular ones. Nitty players are known for their thoughtful and conservative approach at the table. They handle their cards with caution, and they only play the hands that make them feel confident about winning. They take no unnecessary risks, and they only prefer playing premium hands. In total, there are 1,326 options for opening hands out of which the nitty range holds about 282 of them, which is nearly one-fifth of the net number. This tells us that nitty players use such a pre-flop hand reading method that they end up playing only once out of every five times and fold during the remaining four times. Within the 282 possible hand combinations that these players prefer playing, 78 of those are made up of pocket pair. In total, there are 13 pocket pairs and six variations of having them. Automatically this implies that nitty players are better and picking pocket pairs as compared to other players since they do so about a third of the time that they open the pot. Certain nitty players won’t even raise pre-flop, and if they do, it is likely that their hands do not belong to the bottom of the opening range. Nitty players will always raise strong hands, and they will limp with weaker ones. If they do not hold the nuts, they won’t prefer going for a three-bet.
  • The Regular
A regular player often referred to as the ‘reg’ on the table is someone who plays poker more than the ones who casually join a game just for the experience. These players tend to stick to specific strategies and don’t often make mistakes. They also tend to engage in tight play and don’t go on the aggressive needlessly. Regular poker players are likely to develop their skill of pre-flop hand reading with the volume of hands that they play from time to time. These players dominate the no-limit format of the game where small stakes are involved. If you are up against a regular poker player, chances are that you won’t find them making massive mistakes. However, they do tend to have certain habits that they present before the flop, and those can be exploited. One of the attributes of regulars is that they prefer playing much more hands than the nits, but these numbers do them no good as most of those additional hands fetch them loss-worthy results. Regulars prefer open raising with hands like JTs and 66. However, they’d choose to raise fewer hands as compared to limping. Their range leans more towards aces, and if those don’t get drawn, they are known to go easy on the flop. If at all, a regular decides to three-bet, your safest option is to fold unless your hand is really strong since they are conservative players in certain aspects after all.
  • The Fish
The fish is a poker player who is likely not to be the most experienced one at the table. Fishy poker players are notorious for playing in a very disorderly manner. They are radical with their betting patterns, and they stick to no strategies. They are tricky for pre-flop hand reading because while they’re unorthodox in making unadvisable poker moves, this also adds to their unpredictability. They do not take their bankroll into much consideration, and they are mostly new players looking to experiment with poker. All of this makes it hard to classify fishy players within a range. They call and raise without taking their hand into consideration. These players operate with such aggression that can’t be decoded. If they’ve had a good track record building to a particular game or if an opponent, they’re after is at the table then they will not budge, will not fold and call no matter what. The best chance you have with pre-flop hand reading against fishy players is to take notice of their three-bets to see which ones are cautious and who are going crazy on board.
Learning to read pre-flop poker hands and knowing how to shift your game as per the cards your opponents hold and the ones you hold is greatly advantageous to contend for the pot seriously. This is another dynamic of poker that helps us understand that poker isn’t static, and you need to be able to change your strategies as per how the game progresses. Trying to learn this at first might seem complicated, but the more you play the game, the faster you will learn. If you haven’t already, join Spartan Poker where you can easily sign-up and start playing your favourite poker variation from American Poker to Texas Hold’em. Download the Spartan Poker app and get started with all the exciting poker tournaments.