Posted March 20, 2014 by John Baintree in News

How to read your poker opponents body language

How to read your poker opponents body language
How to read your poker opponents body language

Winning at poker is all about being able to read what your opponents are playing with. The clearer you can read the signs, the better chance you have of taking the pot. So what follows are some simple pointers to get you off and winning.

The first thing you need to do is to create a mental baseline of each player. Do that by observing and making mental notes as soon as your opponents take their seats. Note whether they are “aggressive” or “passive” in their stance. An aggressive stance would be characterised by loudness and boisterousness while a passive one would be laid back and relaxed behaviour. Be prepared for this judgement to be changed during a game but it is important to have a view right from the get go.

Once you have your view of your opponents watch for any changes in that stance as it may tell you something about their hand. A passive player who begins to exhibit certain traits may be holding a good hand. Alternatively, it could mean that your original base line was wrong so be prepared to change it.

With any table there is some standard behaviour that you can look out for. A player who is faking disinterest, especially if you have base lined them aggressive, may in fact be throwing a curved bal. They could be attempting to cover up a very good hand. Of course, such an obvious tell would really only be spotted on an inexperienced player. Make allowances if you are playing against more experienced pros.

Similarly, remembering that base line, an aggressive player is going to be telling you something. An aggressive player, acting aggressively is acting true to form so you can rely on the presence of an interesting hand to bet against. A passive player, acting aggressively is probably trying to throw you off the sent about something. Learn to tell the difference between natural behaviour and put on behaviour. Natural behaviour moves from one mood to another, usually in smooth undulating moves whereas a quick change, a jerky moodswing if you will, can often tell you that it is being put on.

Watch someone’s changes in posture. If they suddenly sit up and look to be paying attention, particularly as the deal happens, you can expect a good hand. This can be even more so if their upright posture is at odds with the way they sit normally. A good poker player will stop you reading too much into this by assuming a position, probably upright, and maintaining it throughout the game.