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Old 12-21-2013, 12:47 PM   #1
DalTXColtsFan
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What to "watch for" while playing live?

I apologize in advance if this question doesn't make sense, I've been pondering how to most efficiently and actionably word it but am failing.

What do you suggest I "watch for" at the table, and/or "keep track" of?

Or if that's the wrong question to ask, what's the "right" question to ask? Perhaps, what are situtations where reads are the most important factors in when a decision is correct or incorrect?

In my personal case, I think I'm capable of keeping track of who seems LP, LAG, TAG, TP or maniacal, adjusting those reads as the game goes on (i.e. someone who's raised 10 hands the first hour may have just had a good run of cards), but it's hard for me to memorize how often each individual villain c-bets, donks, raises the flop, raises the turn, raises the river etc., and if so, what did they do it with (further complicated by when all the villains fold and you don't get to SEE what they did it with).

SOME villains play totally differently heads up than multiway (I know *I* sure do) as well, giving you even MORE to keep track of.

The only example I can think of is, 3 hours into a session I raise AKo and only the big blind calls, I flop top pair on an otherwise inert board and get check/called, turn is a blank and I get check/raised (assume no straight or flush draws on the board like KT74r). Is that just an instant fold regardless of the situation? If not, what specifically should I have been paying attention to for the previous 3 hours to help me make this decision?

EDITED to say I guess this is kind of a bad example because a lot what goes into the decision are kind of obvious - what position did I raise from? How often has he defended his big blind? How often has he 3-bet? Has he raised the turn all? But again, suppose I've seen him raise the turn twice, both times with less than TPTK? Do I assume he's doing that a 3rd time and show it down? What if I'd NEVER seen him raise the turn in 3 hours? Instafold?

Hope the question made any sense at all.

Last edited by DalTXColtsFan; 12-21-2013 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
douloureux
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

how the folks on your left play especially when they are in the blinds.

opponents open limping ranges and do they adjust them in different game types.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:01 PM   #3
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Your mom. Watch out for that b
Once she shows up to the casino, it is time to go home and clean your room.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:04 PM   #4
Jon_locke
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Assume every single person your playing with sucks at poker until proven otherwise, then go from there. Now all You have to remember is why they suck.
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Old 12-21-2013, 02:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon_locke View Post
Assume every single person your playing with sucks at poker until proven otherwise, then go from there. Now all You have to remember is why they suck.
I tended to see what people are capable of. Like.

Folding for one bet when raised. Which could mean

Bluffed that street.

Raise turn with draw.

Folded big blind.
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Old 12-21-2013, 04:40 PM   #6
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

I'm not folding TPTK to an unknown heads up.

How's your ability to recall past hands? This will limit your potential. If you never see some particular pattern of action and think, "oh, I've seen this before and the answer's clear to me." or something of the sort, then I'm sorry to say it but you're at a distinct disadvantage in this game. If you do find yourself thinking such things, then you should already know what to look for.

Maybe read a psychology book. Understanding how people make sense of the world is a big part of understanding how they play poker. People play to their personalities, even those of us who study the game. I, for one, have loose passive tendencies in limped pots. What does that tell you about me?
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Old 12-21-2013, 04:45 PM   #7
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

patterns
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Old 12-21-2013, 05:02 PM   #8
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

The better you are at reading hands, the easier it is to follow/remember them. There is just less to remember as you can go through the hand as "missed clear value raise on the turn, MUBS?" If you have to think about PF, flop, and turn as separate things, there is so much more to remember. Also, being able to think about ranges quickly helps -- you then see spots where no well played hand in his range ever takes the line he did and you can start to see how the villain played badly.

As you get experience, the game slows down. You're less excited and have to think less about your own hands. It is part of why I like DeathDonkey vids, because he's so calm waking through hands at game speed. It is really hard to do this while talking out loud in a video. Go watch one and see how he's walking through decisions in a hand and what he notices about villains during play.
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:11 PM   #9
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Stuff I take a note of:

(1) If someone can bet/fold the big streets;
(2) if someone can bet/fold the flop;
(3) if someone habitually donks into the PFR, and if so, with what;
(4) if someone plays a hand very passively (i.e. check calling down with 2 pair; bet/calling with AK on a KKxxA board; etc.)
(5) if someone is betting 2nd or 3rd pair for value.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:12 PM   #10
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

The first thing I look for is people who play too many hands pre-flop, and I sit to their left.

Seriously. I think that's worth more EV than any of the more specific reads.

The second thing I look for is anyone who seems to really know what they are doing, stealing blinds, not playing junk out of position, making thin raises and value-bets, etc. Against those players, I try to play as balanced as I can and not get out of line. If there are too many of them, I get a table change.

Finally, but a lot less important than those two, I just watch every hand carefully and wait for something notable to happen. Like slowplay, a bluff (and what street it was on), a thin value bet, an apparent hero fold, etc. It's usually pretty easy to remember if you are paying attention.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:54 PM   #11
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

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Originally Posted by lawdude View Post
The first thing I look for is people who play too many hands pre-flop, and I sit to their left.
You know, I remember the first time I went to a casino to play poker. One of the players at the table asked for a seat change to across the table and I thought he just wanted to watch TV.

Who knows, maybe he did. But still, looking back on that it's pretty funny to realize how little I understood about this game!

Returning to the serious conversation, do you actually typically have a choice of what table or seat you play at? The few times I've gone to Winstar it's almost always "beggars can't be choosers" - there's usually a waiting list and when a spot opens you take it or you go to the bottom of the list.

One time I was at table that was suddenly six-handed - I didn't want to play so short so I asked for a table change and a guy across the table opened his mouth right up and said, "What's wrong don't you like us???"

When you're at a table and ask for a seat change do you ever get smartalecks asking you if they smell bad or saying "I don't bite" or whatever?
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:15 PM   #12
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

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Originally Posted by DalTXColtsFan View Post
You know, I remember the first time I went to a casino to play poker. One of the players at the table asked for a seat change to across the table and I thought he just wanted to watch TV.

Who knows, maybe he did. But still, looking back on that it's pretty funny to realize how little I understood about this game!

Returning to the serious conversation, do you actually typically have a choice of what table or seat you play at? The few times I've gone to Winstar it's almost always "beggars can't be choosers" - there's usually a waiting list and when a spot opens you take it or you go to the bottom of the list.

One time I was at table that was suddenly six-handed - I didn't want to play so short so I asked for a table change and a guy across the table opened his mouth right up and said, "What's wrong don't you like us???"

When you're at a table and ask for a seat change do you ever get smartalecks asking you if they smell bad or saying "I don't bite" or whatever?
At smaller stakes, you just have to say that it's your lucky seat or that you want to watch the game or whatever. At higher stakes people will see through that more easily, but they generally take it less personally, at least in my experience (don't go too far with this though - if you are playing musical chairs around the fish, he probably will figure it out and not like it).
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:34 PM   #13
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdude View Post
The first thing I look for is people who play too many hands pre-flop, and I sit to their left.
+1

Flop: do they auto c-bet if they raised pre-flop

Turn: do they wait for the turn to raise flopped monsters, do they FSDR

River: Some small stakes players don't bet 1 pair on the river, not top pair or even an over pair. Some may bet one pair if its heads up on the river.
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:49 PM   #14
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

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Originally Posted by asmitty View Post
At smaller stakes, you just have to say that it's your lucky seat or that you want to watch the game or whatever. At higher stakes people will see through that more easily, but they generally take it less personally, at least in my experience (don't go too far with this though - if you are playing musical chairs around the fish, he probably will figure it out and not like it).
I generally limit myself to one targeted seat or table change per fish. If the fish changes after that, I not only think it looks bad but I think it's kind of douchy. Really we want the fish to come back and have a good time and enjoy themselves, and having decent players stalk them obviously and follow them around just confirms the worst fears about regular poker players to a lot of casual players. So I change once, if the fish changes again, I stay put or look to sit on some other player's left instead.
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:29 AM   #15
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

I think that the most important thing to keep track of is what is going on inside your head. The strat stuff you will pick up w/ playing time, reading, analyzing both at the table and when you review your play. But you already know more than most players at the table esp in small stakes games.

I think that more money is lost due to aggravation (ok, tilt) than anything else and it's so damn hard to make up for it by good play when you settle down. If you settle down.
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:55 AM   #16
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Use this rule first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon_locke View Post
Assume every single person your playing with sucks at poker until proven otherwise, then go from there. Now all You have to remember is why they suck.
now seat selection is easy. Don't worry much in small games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DalTXColtsFan View Post
One time I was at table that was suddenly six-handed - I didn't want to play so short
at some point you'll beg people to play short.

Quote:
When you're at a table and ask for a seat change do you ever get smartalecks asking you if they smell bad or saying "I don't bite" or whatever?
part of the problem with aggressive seat changes is making bad players uncomfortable. It can hurt the game. Sometimes the best seat in the world is open and we just take it. As for the advice of the SS player at the table, just ignore all of it. Everything they say is wrong, intended to trick you, or both.
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Old 12-22-2013, 11:26 AM   #17
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Quote:
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at some point you'll beg people to play short.
This. I remember offering to straddle my button every chance I got in order to try to keep a 3 handed game going when the 5th and 4th players left. It half worked.

My favorite hand reading advice comes from "Theory of Poker," which says to "listen to the bets." Poker is a form of communication. Every action says something. In the pile of "Bob's lost 2+2 musings" there is a post that looks something like this from the poker theory forum:

Thread title was something like "Improving Hand Reading Abilities," to which I replied:

I like to assign voices to my opponents as they take actions in a hand. Loose passives sound like Lenny from "Of Mice and Men." Tight passives sound like Martin Lawrence when he imitates white guys. Lags sound like the Cookie Monster. Tags sound like Mr. T. When a lag looses a pot they say, "Aaahhh!! No cooookie!!!" When a tag pulls in a pot it's always, "I pity the fool!!"

Sorry couldn't help myself. Now I feel like I owe something more for being silly.

If I see someone who I would classify as a "young hot shot type," I immediately focus my attention on them because they'll be pushing the action. Whether they're an ex internet pro, which is unlikely, or a really bad lag, which is more likely, is to be determined by the usual process. If you've never seen a lag on a preflop heater, then you're missing out imo. When a lag gets a good run of preflop cards, the table often goes on tilt. Suddenly formerly tight players are calling two and three bets preflop with QJo and the like. The Loose passives just do what they always do, which is call a lot. The tags might prematurely open up their isolation ranges, and they often do it incorrectly imo.

Once this dynamic is created at a table, it can end in a number of ways. The most common being that the lag goes broke and leaves. If he has deep pockets though, then it's either time to find a softer game where 7 players are playing for one bet preflop, or fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:26 PM   #18
revolio
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

So you are saying Bob, it is more what you hear than what you see?
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:35 PM   #19
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

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So you are saying Bob, it is more what you hear than what you see?
Not really, it was just an analogy mixed in with some plagiarism or some plagiarism mixed in with some analogies.

Now where's that damn analogy containment thread I meant to start?

I digress.

What about the guys that like to jam multiway preflop with suited broadways? That's a good read to have, especially if they do it with a capped range; they coldcall a raise and then jam when it comes back for 3 bets, thus capping their range. I like to donk my good hands into these guys on flops that miss them.
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Old 12-24-2013, 04:55 AM   #20
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Lots of good stuff in this thread.

Another thing to add: At small stakes holdem watch for villains who can raise the turn without 2pair+, whether that be made hands or bluffs. This is an atypical play that stands out so it's easy to remember. And obviously bet/fold these villains a lot less.

Some edge hands that I still throw in the "2pair+" category: TPTK/overpair in a spot where TPTK/overpair is a monster: Example, you raise preflop and some old man calls you out of the BB. He has AK. The flop comes out AT7, you bet, he calls. The turn is a blank and he check/raises. In that spot TPTK is a monster, so nothing stands out there. Same if he had KK on a T732 board and check/raised the turn.

HOWEVER, if he did that with AT on a T732 board, take note of it. That's an extremely atypical play for this game. Most live players play with a lot of fear against pfrs. They will naturally fear you have JJ-AA, so if they have the courage to raise the turn in that spot, that means they're a different animal and you need to adjust by bet/folding less and value 3betting the turn more. So yeah, not all TPTK's are equal. Same goes for overpairs. If this guy raises the turn with 88 on a 7326 board, take note of that weird play and adjust accordingly.
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:19 PM   #21
MikeHoltPHD
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

1) If I see certain behaviors from a player I completely write them off and don't pay any further attention to them. A) Please A no-kicker in early position, call to river, showdown and lose more than once B) Old ladies (sorry, I stereotype cause it's easier). C) In a hand that is checked down (ie: small pot) and there is a single bet on the river if a player says "I just have to see it" and then loses the hand. D) Calling down with less than 2nd pair.

2) Agree with previous comment. Assume all low fixed limit players suck until they prove otherwise. How do they prove otherwise? A) They play 2-3 hands per orbit; not 7-8. B) Positionally aware C) C/R to protect hands D) Raise more than they call

3) Very few players make it to this point in my criteria check list (maybe 10%). Typically there is only one player at the table I'm even paying attention to. Everyone else I categorize as calling station (taking them to value town) or weak tight (I'm playing aggressively against them) or the occasional maniac (I tighten up range against them and use them to isolate or pot build)

A) PF raising range
C) Are they capable of folding to a turn or river raise
B) Overuse of the the C/R flop and checking through to river
C) When they C/R
D) How they play a draw
E) Over playing top pair low kicker

I don't know if other players have this same ability, but I have a strong intuition about categorizing people just based on physical appearance. I can correctly identify players into calling station, erratic, thinkers and maniacs with 90% accuracy before they even play a hand.

The best players always have a subtle confidence in the way they speak to people and how they behave when they win or lose. They're typically the jovial ones capable of conversing and analyzing at the same time. The other warning flag is the non-talker whose eyes intensely follow the action even in hands they're not playing.

That's what I'm looking for. I'm not great but this system has helped me turn a small long term profit at small stakes fixed limit.
That's what I'm looking for at an unknown table. I've only ever played low fixed limit and I think there are very few
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:30 PM   #22
revolio
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

In which discipline do you hold your PhD Mike? (assuming PHD refers to a doctorate)
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:16 PM   #23
MikeHoltPHD
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

I don't have a PhD. It's just a pretentious pseudonym.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:46 PM   #24
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Ok. Your ideas seem well expressed and carefully considered. I'll award you an honorary 2+2 Doctorate of Poker Philosophy, lol.
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:10 PM   #25
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Re: What to "watch for" while playing live?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeHoltPHD View Post
1) If I see certain behaviors from a player I completely write them off and don't pay any further attention to them.
Just remember that this is a common forum poster trap. Someone is completely written off because they don't play off a starting hand chart. Most everyone is horrible, so using a flawed process to decide they are is mostly going to give the right results. However...
  • every live player is a snowflake, with his own fishy ideas of playing cards
  • everone on the forums plays the same in easy-to-analyze spots
  • some self taught live players play horribly in some spots, say pf, and are actually good in others
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