Detecting and exploiting weaknesses in your opponents’ play is where the money is made. It’s why set strategies aren’t optimum, and the best players are very good people/hand readers. Accurately defining what your opponents think and how they react emotionally to differing circumstances will allow you to design positive expectation plays that aren’t available to your less intuitive opponents.
Many players approach this issue by trying to remember what their opponents played in any given circumstances. That’s cumbersome and inefficient. I approach this from a different perspective. I contemplate how my opponents thought to arrive at their conclusions. With some players their strategies are drawn from logical conclusions; with others, their play is defined by their emotional reactions.
My reasons are that it’s both easier and more definitive to define the situation by deciphering their thought process. Trying to memorize all the factors of a given situation is just too much for my poor little brain. I’d rather utilize that available “disk space” for other poker components and keep my thought process as simple as possible. Once you can accurately define how your opponents think, you’ll be able to effectively read their ranges. And when you can do that, you’ll own them at the poker table!
I use my own thought process as a baseline for how others think. Do they play suited connectors differently than I? How so? Do they continuation bet more than I? How can I exploit that? By using my own knowledge level as my guideline, I don’t have to memorize another guideline. I already know how I play; I only have to note when opponents do something differently than I would. There’s less processing, less memorization, a less stressed and more consistent method of thinking. Winning at poker is hard enough, without complicating things more than you have to!
Poker is an intellectual game. Training your brain to focus efficiently and maximizing your intellectual resources will expand your awareness and knowledge. Compartmentalize, utilize and habituate flowcharting routines. Free up your mental processing, and recall as much as you can without sacrificing your processing of the available data.
You’ll be way more consistent, make the game much less mentally demanding, and get significantly less mentally fatigued.
And most importantly, you’ll win more money!