Poker is a founded on judgements. You need to evaluate what your opponents hold and think, and then optimize your play based on that knowledge. Do that effectively, and you’ll own them! But, like many things in life, that sounds much easier than it is!
Reading hands is based mostly on your knowledge of your opponents’ knowledge and emotions. What do they know? How are they utilizing that knowledge? How controlled are they emotionally? And to what degree does it affect their thinking? Figure all that out, and you should own them!
I’m going to outline four levels of thought you need to actualize to play poker on a high level. Additionally, it’s important to recognize what level your opponents are thinking on. You should at least be able to think at the fourth level.
*What do I have?
*What do they have?
*What do they think I have?
*What do they think I think they have?
Beginning players tend to evaluate only the strength of their hand (What do I have?). Their thinking rises to another level when they start thinking about what their opponents hold (What do they have?). You can expand your thought process further by thinking about what your opponents think you have (What do they think I have?). On the next level, consider what they think you think they have (What do they think I think they have?).
If you can master these levels of thought, you will be able to design specific strategies based on your opponents’ holding and thoughts. You’ll make better timed bluffs, folds and value bets. That said, it’s important not to overthink specific situations. You can’t think about what an opponent thinks you have, if he doesn’t bother to consider your cards.
Multi-level thinking has been around since the inception of thought, but many poker players don’t utilize it. Habituate yourself to run through these four levels of thought on every decision.
And when the process comes naturally, you can move your thinking up to even higher levels!