Poker players often tell me “I had no idea how he plays. I’d only been there for a few hands. ” That’s a really bad answer. Players often give indications to their style, mentality, and experience level before they even play a hand.

When you first walk up to the poker table, you should be observing your future opponents. What are the stack sizes? How do they stack their chips? Usually the neater they stack, the more conservative the player. With what experience level do they hold their cards and handle their chips? That’s indicative of how experienced they are at poker. Are they focused and paying attention? If so, we know they are serious and trying to play their best. Are they talkative? Is their talk sociable or boisterous? Sociable player’s tend to play more ABC, boisterous tend to play more aggressively. How do any new players react to posting the BB? Did they wait for the blinds, post behind, or post immediately because they looking to get into action ASAP?

Obviously, the more information you acquire on an opponent, the better your decisions will be. How they think, what hands they play and how they strategize their play of hands is the most important component. But that takes time at the table with them to make those determinations. There are immediate indicators such as those stated above can give you a quicker, though more basic, line on their play. Think about them, observe them, and use them!

And you won’t be so much in the blind when you first sit down!