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Analyzing and Exploiting Your Opponents' Betting Patterns

Dominic Field

Jun 26, 2023

Analyzing and Exploiting Your Opponents’ Betting Patterns

In poker, betting patterns are extremely important. Whenever you’re at the table, it’s crucial to pay attention to the other players. The more information you can accumulate, the better. Knowing their aggression levels and overall ability will help you to make better decisions.

However, watching other poker players closely over a period of time could reveal something extra special - betting patterns. In this article, we’ll discuss their importance and advise on how you can pick up on them. Finally, we’ll reveal some of the most common poker betting patterns.

Why Poker Betting Patterns Are Important

It’s always important to know your opponent and their tendencies, but spotting poker betting patterns can be especially valuable. If a player consistently behaves in a certain manner, they are giving you free information which you can use against them. 

Perhaps they have a good hand? Maybe they’re running a stone-cold bluff. Whatever they’re doing, picking up on poker betting patterns allows you to counter-attack in the most optimal way. 

Learning to Spot Betting Patterns 

Learning to Spot Betting PatternsOf course, it’s very easy to talk about spotting poker betting patterns and their importance. But how exactly should you go about putting it into practice? First of all, remember that you’re not going to master a skill overnight. Practice makes perfect. So start out with baby steps and don’t end up overwhelmed.

Whenever you’re playing poker, focus on the players immediately to your left and right. When you’re comfortable, pay more attention to the players two seats away from you too, slowly spreading out around the entire table.

What To Look For

To begin with, try to ascertain how good the player is, generally speaking. Are they operating at a high level? Do they have a lot of experience? However, you also need to keep your eyes peeled for specific things which will help you spot potential betting patterns:

  • What hands are they showing down? This gives information as to how aggressive or tricky they might be.

  • How many hands do they play? Understanding how tight a player is will be extremely helpful when you need to bluff.

  • How frequently do they bluff? Do they generally act aggressively with a weak hand or are they afraid to bluff?

  • Do they slowplay hands? If a player c-bets every time, they are likely to be strong when they opt to check.

  • How often do they continue? Some players will often make a continuation bet but give up the turn when called. 

  • What types of hands do they raise with preflop? For instance, do they limp with strong hands or raise with suited connectors?

  • What is their standard bet size with certain holdings? Some players are very consistent with their bet and raise sizing, so any deviation is a red flag.

Common Patterns At The Poker Table

So far, we’ve given very general advice on spotting poker betting patterns. In the next section, we’ll provide some specific examples of patterns that you’re likely to come across at the poker tables. 

Check on the End

The player finds themselves involved preflop, perhaps with a speculative limping hand or from the blinds. They make something interesting, so they fire a bet on the flop. This is followed up with a bet on the turn. But by the end, their hand is not particularly strong, so they give up entirely. A player consistently acting in this manner is an easy target to bluff.

This is by far one of the most commonly observed betting patterns when playing Texas Hold’em. Now that we’ve pointed it out, you’ll start to notice it everywhere!

Check-Raise on the Turn

Another one of the most common poker betting lines, check-raises on the turn usually indicate danger. 

If a player quietly makes it to the turn without much fuss, then suddenly throws in a check raise, they are almost certainly strong. You might still wish to call if you’re on a big draw. But when the inevitable river bet comes, you need to consider folding.

Continuation Bettor Checks

Poker betting patterns are about consistency. So when players deviate from their usual strategy, something is likely to be amiss. If someone makes continuation bets at a high frequency, for instance, be very wary when they decide not to.

What reason could a player possibly have for checking the flop when you’ve seen them bet draws, bottom pairs and complete air alike, with total consistency? They’re almost certainly trying to let you catch up to their monster hand.

Aggressive Player Limps

On a similar note, one of the easier poker betting patterns to spot is the maniac suddenly slowing down. We’ve all played against this guy. Betting and raising most hands, regardless of position or the strength of their cards. They’re as predictable as they are dangerous.

Ask yourself why a player like that would elect to open-limp. After all, they usually want their opponents to fold to their aggressive plays. Chances are they’re holding a monster and are now looking to 3-bet any raise.

Fold on the Flop

Fold on the FlopMany poker betting patterns are easily exploitable, but you might need to be patient with this one. Players that only enter the pot with a raise, but frequently fold after seeing the flop, are rocks. 

These tight and cautious players know what they’re doing and won’t commit money to the pot needlessly. So if they break their pattern and fire on the flop, even if it's just a small bet, it’s time to back off.

Turn Bet Equal to Flop Bet

Here we have one of several poker betting patterns that signal weakness. It’s most often found in a player who knows the game pretty well, but perhaps lacks a little bravery.

Most likely, they’ve flopped a playable hand like top pair with a weak kicker or middle pair. They understand that they need to bet the flop and again on the turn. But they also know how vulnerable they are and are reluctant to risk too many chips.

Raise on the End

Imagine the following scenario. You lead all three streets and your opponent follows you the whole way with calls, before opting to raise on the river. But previously, the same player has been consistently calling on the end, or simply giving up.

What is likely to be happening if we analyze this betting line? Given your willingness to commit chips to the pot, this is unlikely to be a bluff. It strongly suggests a big hand that was planned from the start. Be afraid!

Big Bet on the End

Picture a limped pot that features two small bets on both the flop and turn. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a huge bomb is dropped on the river. As a general rule, big bets are polarizing, so it’s likely to either be a very strong hand or a bluff. But unless this is a frequent tendency of theirs, it almost always signals weakness. 

It’s most common when the player is drawing. They want to semi-bluff in order to build a pot, but they keep it small so as not to risk too much. After missing on the end, they have no chance to win without betting. So they opt to bomb the pot, hoping to scare you away.

Be Cautious With Betting Patterns

Before we wrap up our guide to poker betting patterns, there are two more things we need to flag up. First of all, be wary of drawing your conclusions too quickly. 

If a player does something once or twice, it’s not necessarily a pattern. It could simply be a coincidence and, with such a small sample size, anything is possible. Ideally, you’ll have a large database of hand histories to call upon to inform your decisions.

Secondly, don’t ever forget about your own table image. Good opponents will be watching you as closely as you are paying attention to them. So remember to mix up your own actions, taking particular care around all of the points mentioned in this article.

Conclusion

Spotting reliable poker betting patterns can prove to be an absolute goldmine. It’s crucial that you pay attention to other players at the table and learn how they behave in certain spots. Once you know what they’re likely to do, you can adjust your game to exploit their behavior.

Finally, remember that other players at the poker table will be observing you too, searching for your own betting patterns. Don’t give them the satisfaction of being predictable. Be sure to mix up your game and keep them on their toes.