Poker Reads: Lesson 1

Lesson 1: The Beginning of Poker Reads

Assuming you already know the basic rules of Texas Hold’em poker and regular poker the easiest poker tells are the ones that are so obvious that they seem to be too easy. One of my favorite people to play poker against is usually someone who watches lots poker on TV and not enough time on the table. The problem with watching poker on television is that for media reasons they only show you the exciting hands played and that the people usually on the final table are already walking away with 100,000 plus dollars even if they get beat on any hand so let’s throw all of that information out of the window and start from scratch. 80% to 90% of the hands you receive should not be played and you should only bluff gamble when you have established your hands as a good or decent poker player. Remember that these articles are only for poker reads and tactics so if you are looking for hand help you should check out my other section for game play or a great video is the Secrets of Texas Hold’em by Howard Lederer.


The number one tendency that you should be able to read with at least 50% of most weekend warrior or inexperienced poker players is the hard and soft play. The hard play is when the body language tells you that they are angry or aggressive toward the hand which usually tries to show strength or a determine focus to win you can pick this up by a few key motions. The first would be the body puff especially with guys this is almost too easy to pick up their breathing becomes heavy and start to puff up their chest pectorals to show how large they are almost to act like a bully at a school ground. The second part of hard playing is watch the knuckles of your opponents hands if they are white from grabbing the cards, poker ships, or the table too hard this is a sign of muscular flexing which is another advertisement that they believe they are being the strongest of them all. Also another key item is when they pick up their hand and put it down see how much downward force they put their cards down this is also a very big indicators a lot of players with out even knowing it will pick up and put down at different speeds for online players this is very huge because since you can not see the players reaction on a computer online if you can pick up if they are using the automated fold buttons etc. if they are manually playing and folding you should be able to pick up speed habits for online players usually a quick decision online would represent a hard play hand. Most of the time when a hard play hand is called or raised this usually signifies a very weak card hand. There are some occasion where I have seen players use the hard play and actually have a good hand but it’s very few and far between and a lot of mediocre players will already know this strategy and give you the false advertisement of a hard play to trick you into raising the pot for low experience players this should be a very easy one to pick up on. But just to make sure you should go at least 10 rounds before going after the hard handed players just to find out if it’s a true read tell.

Most players who play this way and if I can find out that this is their tendency to play aggressive and try to bluff will usually raise them twice the blind and possibly get them into a one on one all in with a decent high hand. I will take QQ over J3 any day. If they begin to hard play after the flop or after the turn card 80 percent of the time they are trying to make you fold by showing even more body strength.

As for a soft play which is usually calmly raising or even looking away from the hand as the call or raise is a good bet they have a great hand or the nuts. Again this is for inexperience players so if you play in an actual casino or poker room most experienced players play calm all the time but will not give you any reads at all. But an inexperienced player who plays softly would usually softly drop chips in front for a call or raise to bait you into raising a hand yourself. They will find ways to make them seem smaller or weak so as to trick you into feeling they have a weak playing card hand. They best way to play this would be either to fold if your hand is not strong enough or you can counter act by acting soft as well and raising the pot on a bluff in other words give them a taste of their own medicine. For online players you will notice just a regular timing of hand play or possibly if the time takes longer they may be making a decision on a hand they are completely not sure of in which this case would be soft playing but not out of the realms of a possible large hand.

The way I usually play these players is only to play when I know I have a solid top pair pre-flop and buy my time when they are not acting.

One of the best places to learn from is Annie Duke she has mastered the art of reading tell and even has a DVD out that allows her to teach you all of the different tendencies and tells.