When you first sit down at a table there is little to indicate exactly what type of players you’re up against. People mention that older people are usually tight and young guys in hooded tops are loose and aggressive, but you shouldn’t let this guide you too much. There is nothing better than observation for understanding your opponents better.
If someone always seems to fold when pressured, keep pressuring them until the hand where they don’t fold. Then look to check/fold, because they have the goods.
Look for players who are betting second or third pair on the river, or who always seem to be in control of a pot when they are in position. Often these will be skilled players. There are many out there who would be more worried about players who 3 bet and 4 bet seemingly every hand but that’s not the clearest indicator of a talented player. You will find plenty of mediocre players who have read that aggressive poker is winning poker, and so they follow this mantra without applying a careful thought process to their actions. These players can be awkward to face, but as long as you keep thinking clearly and don’t rush into a decision because of ego factors, you can profit from them. Be more worried about players who show controlled aggression, and who always know how to get the maximum value from mediocre hands.
When two very aggressive players are sat next to each other and end up in huge pot that’s been 5 bet pre flop, it’s great for the cameras, but if they are as talented as they think they are, they should be trying to take many small pots from weak players to minimize variance.
Talented players can sometimes flat call a 3 bet with hands like AK or JJ preflop. I’m not saying it’s bad play to get it in pre with these hands, but calling shows that they have a great amount of trust in their post flop game and are happy to play through tricky post flop situations rather than taking a higher variance choice.
Finally, keep an eye out for players who limp in and call raises with a wide range of hands. These are usually weak players who are there for the fun of trying to hit the flop. Wait until you have middle pair or better and start value betting them.
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