Advanced Poker Strategies – It Really Is All About The Eyes

There is an age-old adage that says everything you need to know about a person can be found in their eyes. For the most part, it’s not really true. But in the world of live poker, it really is all about the eyes.

I discovered long ago that just watching the eyes of your opponent, especially on the flop, you can learn a lot of information.

Eye Before the Flop

When an opponent first looks at their hole cards, you may see the eyes widen, or the eyebrows raise, ever so slightly. This translates to the player being rather thrilled with his or her holdings. Pocket Aces, A-K suited or A-K off-suit are likely.

Eyes On the Flop

Always watch their eyes when the first three cards hit the board. Some players have actually been known to roll their eyes when the flop comes down with an Ace. It’s a very clear sign that the player’s Kings, or some other high pocket pair, were just potentially beaten by whoever may have paired the Ace.

You might even notice some players becoming downright gleeful after the Flop. It only lasts for a very brief moment as they suddenly remember where they are! But it is easily detected by anyone paying just a little attention to a players eyes. Take note of what just flopped and see if you can figure out how it improved their hand. Just assume they have the nuts at this point and you’ll be pretty close, if not dead on.

Take note of any player who takes a second look at his hole cards. It is the sign of a very weak poker player who cannot remember what he was dealt, but it does happen. If the Flop was 3-card suited, his hand is off-suit and he’s looking to see if he has one of the Flopped suit. If there are two suited cards on the board, his hole cards are suited and he’s double-checking to see if he’s hit a Flush Draw.

Eyeing the Pros

Watching a player’s eyes may not be quite as effective against professional or highly experienced poker players, as they’ve trained themselves to be brick walls that do not react visibly to any situation in a poker game. That should tell you something very important right there. What’s the lesson here, boys and girls? Mirror the pros and never let yourself react to any situation in an observable manner.

On a final note, there’s one rather neat experience you may come across when playing a veteran. This occurs when you attempt to read a player’s eyes and find your opponent looking back into your own eyes. This momentary meeting of the eyes causes two things to happen. First, you realize just how attentive this opponent is, so you can assume he’s playing a better game than some complete noob. Second, he gains a much higher respect for you, probably giving you more credit than you really deserve. The benefit here is that he’ll almost always fold when you raise.

Advanced Poker Strategies – Variance In Poker

Anyone who has ever shoved all-in on pocket Aces pre-flop, and lost to an 8-high straight that came in on the river, has experienced the reality of variance as it applies to the statistical nature of poker. No matter how carefully the outs have been counting, the odds calculated, and the rules of poker statistics followed, we are eternally destined to occasionally lose with a great hand, as well as fold a terrible hand that would have won the pot if we had stayed in to play it. This inevitable mathematical consequence is what we call “variance”.

Variance in poker is the result of the information we don’t know in the course of the hand. Variance could also be equated with luck. We can’t know how many of our outs our opponents are holding, or how far down the deck that Ace of diamonds that would give us the nut flush is. Three of your outs could have been ‘burned’ in the course of dealing to the board.

When examining a line graph of big bets won and lost over the course of a significant number of hands, it is not uncommon to find it is riddled with sharp peaks and valleys which represent the natural variance in poker. As long as the upswings and downswings ultimately result in a gradually increasing rise in overall profits, things are going well.

A certain measure of variance in poker is unavoidable. Even when you do everything right, the natural uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with poker will inevitably cause your win rate to fluctuate – sometimes wildly – and there is simply no way to change that. No one wins at poker 100% of the time. What we can do is evaluate hand histories in order to correct mistakes that lead to avoidable losses, which will reduce the amount of variance we experience. But we cannot completely rid ourselves of variance.

It is natural for us to examine and re-examine the huge pots we have lost for clues as to how we might win next time we are faced with that exact situation. However, poker players generally tend to play at the peak of their abilities when the pot reaches a sizable amount. Many players overlook the value of small pots, and, therefore, are less alert when the stakes are relatively low. By taking the time to review the smaller pots that you have lost, you may be able to identify leaks in your game that can be easily corrected.

Part of what makes poker so popular is the element of chance combined with the opportunity to apply a great deal of poker strategy. No matter how much a player has studied the various approaches to each poker form, every hand played is still a gamble. Variance in poker is perfectly natural. The key to earning the maximum profit possible is to make good decisions in every hand, no matter how much – or how little – is at stake.

Advanced Poker Strategies – Avoiding Challenging Players

One of the basic laws of any good poker strategy is to never put yourself, or your chip stack, into a high-risk situation. Avoiding challenging players is one good way to stay on track with this goal.

Why put yourself in a situation where a stellar poker strategy isn’t enough to win the majority of the time. The fact is, highly experienced poker players, maniacs and super aggressive players (a.k.a. agros) are using their own sophisticated strategy, and they know very well what they’re doing.

Sure, you could take them on, have a pissing contest in an effort to take their stack, but what’s the point? It may deflate their ego a little bit, but if you end up on the losing end of the stick, you’ll only be more upset that such a frustrating opponent bested you. And honestly, this player has just as much chance of scooping your stack as you do of scooping his, if not more.

It’s usually better to avoid a good player, like they do in the movie Rounders, acclaimed by many as the most realistic movie about poker players ever made.

Spotting a maniac poker player isn’t very hard. They are termed “maniacs” for a reason. They will play any type of hand, from Pocket Aces to T3 off-suit, and they do so with vigor. You simply never know what they’re holding because they mix things up so wildly, betting conservatively one moment, and aggressively the next.

Super agros are also pretty easy to spot. They are much like maniacs but without the incredible range of hands. When they have a good hand, they will play it very aggressively, either scaring everyone else out or taking as many chips as they can along the way. This player will bluff on occasion, but you’ll likely never know it.

This particular poker strategy is best used in cash games. Obviously, it would not do much good in a tournament poker situation, seeing as how you can’t pick and choose your opponents in a tournament.

For tournament play, you’ll simply want to avoid playing hands against the most challenging opponents. When a maniac or extremely aggressive bettor attempts to steal the blinds, let them. Unless you have the nuts, you may easily get outplayed, and at a significant cost no doubt.

In a ring game, specifically at online poker rooms, you can view the statistics of every poker table before you claim a seat.

Statistics alone won’t divulge the exact player types you’ll find at the table, but they will help you to pick a higher potential for more suitable opponents. Once seated, sit back for the first few hands and just observe the other players. Don’t even bother putting chips into the pot unless you’re dealt some immaculate starting hand, like AA or AKs.

If you detect the presence of extremely challenging poker players – maniacs or super agros in particular – don’t waste your time. Depart from the table and keep looking for a poker game with less challenging opponents in the mix.

Advanced Poker Strategies – Ranging Your Opponents Hands

One of the keenest abilities of any poker playing is the ability to put an opponent on a specific range of hands. When you can accurately predict an opponent’s worst and best possible hand, you can play a lot more winning poker hands.

David Sklansky wrote in his book, Theory of Poker – in a section titled the ‘Fundamental Theorem of Poker’ – that “Every time you play a hand differently than you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; every time you play a hand the same as you would have if you could see all their cards, they lose.”

What he meant by this was that putting a player on a range of hands allows you to play as if you can actually see their hole cards. Obviously, seeing their hole cards would tell you exactly how to play your hand – Check, Call, Bet, Raise or Fold.

Now we certainly can’t get a real peek at an opponent’s cards, but through keen observation and heightened mental awareness, you can determine a precise range of hands. Assuming your opponent has the best possible hand within that range, you have virtually the same advantage as if you’d seen their hole cards.

From the beginning of a hand, approximating the hand range is more difficult, as you haven’t yet gathered enough information to really narrow it down. But if you consider all available information, you can get a decent range going.

First, how often does this player bet pre-flop? 10% or less is extremely tight, and you can always assume he has an excellent starting hand. Don’t even bother unless you’ve got a premium starter of your own. A player who continues 15%-20% of the time is fairly tight, and easier to take on.

The next bit of information you need is how often he raises pre-flop. Let’s say he plays about 17% of his hands, and raises pre-flop 15%.

If this player raises pre-flop, you can increase his range of hands to as high as A-A. If he calls a raise, but does not re-raise, his hand range falls. Then again, if it’s a multi-way pot, his hand range alters again as there are a lot of hands a tight-aggressive player will not play in a multi-way pot.

For example, you raise pre-flop with QQ, two others limp in and your focal opponent calls. His hand range would be AJ, AT, A2-9s, KQs-o, KJs, mid to high suited connectors, or any pair of 2-J.

We know he doesn’t have a pair of Queens or higher, or AK, because he would have raised to eliminate the multi-way factor.

That’s a pretty wide range of hands, so we’ll need to gather more information after the Flop to narrow it further.

  • The Flop: 2c-7h-6h

You open with a sizeable bet of $20 in NL $1/$2. Both limpers bow out but your focal opponent calls without hesitation. We’ve already ruled out high pocket pairs, and we can now rule out all over cards since the flop offered all small cards, so he should have folded them to your large bet. Over pairs like 88, 99 and TT are out, because he should have raised your Flop.

The only things left are draws, weak pairs, two pair and sets. His range now contains 67s, any open-ended straight connectors, any two connected hearts, or a set of 2’s, 6’s or 7’s.

  • The Turn: Th

With the high over-pair, you drop $40 into the pot and he pushes all-in over you. Now what? His hand range becomes a lot more defined. Most likely he’s hit a draw hand since he called the previous two rounds. He could also have that low to mid set. His range is a Heart Flush, 6-T Straight or a set of 2’s, 6’s or 7’s.

If you can’t beat the majority of his hand range, you should fold. In this case, you have QQ, which loses to his entire hand range. You would need at least to match his potential 6-T Straight to consider calling, but realistically, if you had this hand, you’d have been making terrible bets up to this point!


Putting your opponent on a range of hands can be the most useful tool you’ll ever add to your poker strategy regime. It is something you should be practicing and implementing in every poker game you play. Ranging hands will help you to make fewer mistakes, translating into less chip loss and higher pot profits at the poker table.

Advanced Poker Strategies – Adopting New Poker Tells Intentionally

In a continuation to our previous poker strategy, “Learn Your Tells, and Use Them!“, a discussion on recognizing fake poker tells, we’ll be discussing how to intentionally incorporate new poker tells into your game.

Poker tells are any observable behaviourisms, spoken or unspoken, that relay information on a player’s holdings. Poker tells can be conscious or unconscious behavioural patterns or mannerisms.

On the surface, it is generally a bad idea to let any poker tells show in your poker game. But when you can successfully emit poker tells that throw your opponents off, it can be an awesome weapon in card game warfare.

It can be difficult to dupe your opponents in such a manner, as we learned from Mike “The Mad Genius of Poker” Caro in his publication of ‘Caro’s Book of Poker Tells’. Caro stated simply, “strong means weak and weak means strong”. Any veteran poker player knows that a player who is trying to appear weak is hiding a strong hand, while a weak-handed player will attempt to appear strong.

You’ll have to be a bit more deceptive, and certainly more convincing, to pull this off.

The reverse psychology method has been so overused that now days, you may actually have more success by acting like you have exactly what you are holding. Instead of betting aggressively on a bluff, you may have to act like you have nothing, which is in fact what you have. Conversely, play a strong hand tenaciously.

Unfortunately, the success of this plan will have everything to do with your opponents. If they are too inexperienced or weak themselves, they may not even be paying attention enough to know that you are emitting poker tells. If they are too experienced, they may recognize your behaviour before it does you any good.

One of the most common poker tells is the raising of the eyebrows, or widening of the eyes upon seeing your hole cards or the flop. It is so common because too many players simply can’t control their immediate reaction. They know not to let their face show such tells, but it happens so instantaneously, they just can’t always control it. In a live poker game, it can be especially useful to let yourself show a momentary widening of the eyes every once in awhile.

Anyone who is paying attention will think you’re holding Pocket Aces, while you’re smirking on the inside over something like 10-8 suited. Do this in late position and stealing the blinds could be a cinch.

Betting patterns are excellent poker tells to incorporate against more experience poker players. They are always watching for any kind of pattern in an opponent’s game. Allow yourself to be read as a pattern bettor. Bet aggressively with a big hand; more conservatively on draws. Then when you mix things up, they will never know what hit them. Suddenly an aggressive bet becomes a scary situation for them, regardless of what you’re really holding.

Don’t become overly confident in your purposeful poker tells before you can determine whether your opponents are actually falling for it. If they are reacting as you had hoped, then you know they are paying attention, and you’re playing the role of a very good actor. Swoop in for the kill!

Advanced Poker Strategies – Psychology Matters

Psychology is the business of knowing people and understanding why they do the things that they do. Not only is it one of the most lucrative doctrine practices in today’s medical field, it can turn a mediocre poker player into a phenomenally successful poker pro. However, as a poker player, you don’t have to have a master’s degree in psychology to exploit its application.

Using proper psychology can work two ways. When you get into an opponent’s head, you can start predicting his hand, as well as his reaction to different situations. If you let your opponents think they’ve gotten into your head, you can take full advantage of what they think you’re holding.

First things first, successfully reading your opponents isn’t something you can acquire in a single day, by reading an advanced poker strategy article. It is something attained through experience and deep observation.

You will find, over time, that most players fit into a category. Each of those categories come with typical tendencies. For example, there are loose, carefree players who simply love to see the flop, no matter what their starting hand is. We like to call these players “fish”. They are very easy to take advantage of as you can put them on a wide range of hands. You may get duped once or twice, but since you’re playing a more strategic poker game, way more often than not you’ll have the better hand.

Maniac poker players are a lot like fish, but with one key difference. Maniacs are extremely aggressive spenders. A fish isn’t going to risk their stack on a pitiful hand, where a maniac player uses intimidation through high raises. Again, it’s hard to put them on a hand since they are likely to bluff as often as they are holding a monster. The key to maniac players is to take them down tactfully, waiting for a great hand of your own to scoop a large portion of their stack. This will cool their heels faster than anything.

Playing against a tight player is also easy to identify, and much easier to predict their hand strength. Simple, tight poker players are not easy to defeat because they are not going to stay in a pot if they don’t think they can win it. Therefore putting them on a hand is a simple matter of observing the board, deciding what their best hands could be, and noting at what time they chose to become aggressive.

An experienced, tight poker player will either make a move as soon as he’s developed a hand, or on the next card, in an attempt to throw you off his actual holdings. The latter is actually more common. If you can determine the nuts one card prior to his aggression, it’s generally safe to assume that’s his best possible hand.

Reverse psychology works in much the same way. Knowing how other categorical player types react to various situations will allow you to mix up these tactics and fool your opponents. Never let yourself fall into a specific category. As a beginner poker player, a tight strategy is recommended, but as you advance in experience, changing up your game is crucial.

Play tight, play loose, play like a maniac – play every poker strategy in the book. Just don’t ever let yourself fall into a readable pattern. As soon as your opponents think they have you figured out, change your tactics completely. Not only will your opponents be utterly confused, they will fear you. Intimidation is one of the best poker strategies in the book, and the ability to be intimidating without having to wager a substantial amount of your chip stack is incredibly advantageous.

Advanced Poker Strategies

It can take awhile for your poker game to progress through the early and middle stages of strategic poker play. As these variable skills are implemented with consistent success, the time has come to upgrade your game once more to an advanced level of poker strategies.

Adopting New Poker Tells Intentionally

Our last intermediate poker strategy article, “Learn your Tells, and Use Them!“, spoke of how to identify the poker tells you are already giving off, and use them to your advantage.

This next section is an expansion on that theory, teaching you how to adopt new poker tells to add to your arsenal of reverse psychology warfare.

Ranging Your Opponents Hands

Something professional poker players do all of the time is putting your opponent on a hand, and most of them are pretty darn good at it!

If you’ve ever watched Daniel Negreanu on NBC’s Poker After Dark, you’ve likely heard him guess exactly what his opponent is holding. While Negreanu has perfected the art, with seemingly psychic accuracy, we’ll at least get you started on the right path by teaching you how to put your opponent on a range of hands.

If you can narrow it down close enough, you’ll at least be able to determine the strongest hand you’ll need to beat before deciding whether to make that next call or raise.

Avoiding Challenging Players

If you find that there is a specific poker player type that gives you a frequently insurmountable challenge, it is not necessary to continue playing this kind of opponent. Shakespeare once said, “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.” Point being, trying to get revenge by repeatedly playing these player types will only come back to bite you in the you-know-what.

The easiest solution is to simply avoid challenging players. We’ll also discuss how to cope with challenging players when they cannot be avoided, such as in a tournament situation.

Variance in Poker

Adjusting to variance in poker isn’t just about the impending swings in your bankroll. Too many poker players think they have to win more than half of the time in order to be drawing a profit.

Actually, just winning a very small percentage of the time can be incredibly lucrative so long as you play your cards right; i.e. don’t filter chips into a lost cause, and use all of the beginner, intermediate and advanced poker strategies you’ve learned thus far to gain as many chips as possible when you’re on top.

It Really is All About the Eyes

In a live poker game, you’d be surprised just how much the eyes can give away. You would naturally assume that any poker player with any kind of experience at all would be very conservative with visible poker tells, especially something so obvious as the eyes. Luckily for you, that just isn’t the case.

We’ll give you a few tips on when and what to look for in the eyes, and of course, how not to let your own eyes get you busted.

Mid-Level Poker Strategies – Learn Your Tells, And Use Them!

The basic rule of poker is to develop a standard poker strategy. You could be a loose player or a tight player. The golden rule for most newbies is to learn and stick to a tight poker strategy. However, as you become more experienced, and learn your poker tells, you can mix up your game with loose and tight play, resulting in a more profitable poker game.

There are two types of poker tells – the real poker tells and the fake poker tells, or acting poker tells. Knowing how to distinguish the two is key to winning more poker hands.

What is a Poker Tell?

A poker tell is any indication given by a player as to the strength of his hand. It may be a blatant, physical gesture, a subtle gesture or a notable betting pattern. Poker tells could be observed as a player who always sticks to a specific regiment suddenly altering his game.

Fake Poker Tells

Fake poker tells occur when a player purposely acts in one manner to throw you off what he is really holding.

A player may visibly eye up his own chip stack, mentally counting to see how much he’s willing to risk in order to play through a hand. This poker tell is generally a sign that you don’t want to take this player on unless you have the nuts.

Another player might double-check his hole cards, normally alluding to his possession of a draw hand, such as 4 cards to a flush or straight.

How do you know if the player is simply emitting fake poker tells? It is a matter of noting the opponent’s experience and behaviour up to that point.

A more experienced player would know better than to be so obvious with his poker tells. If he or she has shown no sign of poker tells up to this point, chances are, it is nothing more than an act. They want you to see. They want you to believe they have the best hand. They want you to fold.

Another popular poker tell is the widening of the eyes, or raising of the eyebrows. This is another common poker tell seen in less experienced players. If you see a loose, novice poker player do this, beware. But if a veteran of the game let’s such behaviour slip, it is likely enough that it s a fake poker tell.

Now we’re certainly not encouraging you to risk your entire stack the first time you witness what you honestly believe to be a fake poker tell. But if you can afford to make the move, and have a worthy enough hand to take that risk, it can be a very profitable call in many cases.

Using Fake Poker Tells

Because one veteran poker player recognizes another, it can be hard to use fake poker tells against other experienced poker players. However, if you take a seat with what you know to be skilled, observant opponents, you can let fake poker tells give off the essence that you yourself are a loose, novice player. Your gullible foes will have no idea what hit them when you finally make your move!

Unfortunately, it’s a short-term usage at such tables, and may require frequent table hopping to keep it up with consistent success.

Mid-Level Poker Strategies – Using TV Poker To Improve Your Game

Hands-on experience is a great way to tweak your poker skills at the tables, but it’s not the only way. You can actually use TV poker to improve your game, learning new tricks of the trade by watching the pros do what they do best.

Most amateur poker players enjoy watching poker on TV. We find it entertaining simply because we can relate to it, much like a high school football player enjoys watching the pros toss around the pigskin on a Sunday afternoon. But the best players – those with a potential career ahead of them – are the ones that take more away from a televised game than just a few hours of entertainment.

In fact, professional football players watch footage of opposing teams on a regular basis to improve their game. A team will watch clips from the previous bout to see where their own players may have faltered. They will also watch tape of their upcoming opponents to pin-point any flaws they may be able to exploit. They are constantly learning new tricks and better ways to defeat their opponents on the turf.

TV poker is no different. If you want to play like a pro, and win like a pro, you need to learn from the pros.

Thousands of hands of poker are shown on television every single day. ESPN shows past and current World Series of Poker events at least once a week. GSN (Game Show Network) broadcasts High Stakes Poker every Sunday at 8 EST, with reruns throughout the week. Poker After Dark is shown almost every night on NBC. Europe has a cable network devoted to all things poker – The Poker Channel – carried by over 18 million cable companies.

There is no lack of televised poker on your TV. Each of these poker shows is packed with amateur and professional poker players competing on the felt in cash game sessions and tournaments. That’s an awful lot of hours of tape you could be studying and learning from, day in, day out.

Learning to read poker tells is especially applicable to poker on TV. You get to see each player’s actions and reactions, as well as the cards they are holding. Bring a notepad and pencil to the couch as you watch. Take notes on each player’s behaviourisms, both physical and emotional.

How do they act when they are bluffing as opposed to holding the nuts? What kind of bet/raise will make them fold a winning hand?

Are there inadvertent poker tells being displayed? A nervous player will often touch their face in some way, or become fidgety. They may run fingers through their hair, wipe their chin or scratch their forehead. They could rest their head on one hand contemplatively, or take a second look at their cards after the flop, usually meaning they have a draw hand.

Not only will this help you identify common player types on he felt, you never know when you may find yourself competing directly against one of the very pros you’ve been studying. By recognizing behaviours and betting patterns, you can greatly improve your poker game by simply watching the pros play poker on TV.

Mid-Level Poker Strategies – 5 Multi-Tabling Tips

If we had to pin-point the single most significant difference between live and online poker games, it would have to be the ability to multi-table at online poker rooms. For experienced online poker players, multi-tabling can be one of the best ways to boost your bankroll.

Use the following top 5 multi-tabling tips to help you focus more on the games at hand, without getting distracted or confused.

1 – Note Taking

Most online poker rooms come equipped with a note taking feature. It’s there for a reason – use it! When multi-tabling, you’re not going to be able to remember every player at every table. Getting confused can be quite costly. If you think a player is a calling station, and they turn out to be the extremely tight player at the table instead, you could find yourself bluffing your way right out of the game against a nut flush, or worse.

2 – Four-Color Decks

If an online poker room offers the option to view a four-color deck, take advantage of it. You’re going to be switching from one table to the next, playing a little more quickly than you would a single session of poker. That makes it easier to confuse a club for a spade, or a diamond for a heart. The clubs become green, the diamonds become blue. A four-color deck eliminates any room for error. You’ll never make the mistake of betting on a 4-card flush again. If you have a flush, you’ll know it!

3 – Table Organization

Organizing your tables is very important. You must find the best way to organize the tables that you can work with. Some online poker players prefer to stack the windows, while others prefer a tiled view. Sometimes the choice is dependent on the number of tables you’re playing.

If you have a lot of tables open, it might be a good idea to sort them by limits and stakes, going from lowest to highest, or vice versa. In tournaments, sort them by blind levels.

4 – Remove All Table Clutter

Try to keep the tables as clutter-free as possible. If there are avatars at the table, toggle them off. Use the customization options in the poker client to eliminate any possible distractions. Some sites will offer different color schemes as well. Either use the same theme for all tables, or change the design for every table. Just make sure to keep the layout nice and mellow so it doesn’t detract from the game.

5 – Keep the Same Seat

Some online poker software will automatically seat you in the bottom, center seat at every table you join. That’s a great feature really, but unfortunately, too many online poker rooms don’t offer instant same-seating.

Make sure you are seated in the same position at all multi-tables. You may have to do this manually as soon as each table is opened. Be sure to check out the customization options first, though, as several online poker clients offer static seating at all tables when this feature is toggled on.