If you’ve been paying attention to our blog posts then you’ll know that poker doesn’t end just because you’ve bowed out of a single hand. This is NOT the time to sit twiddling your thumbs. What should you be doing then? Read on to discover how to maximise your time after folding!
Track Players, Hands, and Ranges
Ok, you’ve folded and you’re out of the hand - but you’re not out of the game! While you may temporarily be in a more passive position, you can use this time to garner valuable information on your rivals. Closely examine how the hand plays out and do your best to track the hands or range of hands of the other players. What are poker ranges? A range is a collection of all the possible hands a player can have right this moment. Ranges exist in both the preflop and post-flop and can vary widely. This is because tight players will have fewer hands in their range while looser players will have many starting hands in their range. At first, tracking like this can be difficult. Yet, it can be nailed with practice and will ultimately give you an edge when you get back into the game.
To help with this process you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Who’s playing aggressive and who’s playing tight?
- What hands are being played when the pot size is small, medium, or large?
- Which hands are played after both a value bet and bluff?
So, how can this information help you determine ranges? Well, if you notice an opponent play J-T suited in a three-bet pot and table a bluff with 5-6 offsuit, this means they have a wide range. A tight-range player will be a lot more cautious with the hands they act on.
Naturally, players’ ranges will change from hand to hand but not by much. People tend to stick with a chosen playing style that aligns with their everyday personalities. Thus, the information you gain from examining them will allow you to categorise whether they belong in a tight-range group or a wide-range group. If you label someone as a wide-range player, they are more likely to have more potential hands than a tight-range player.
Watch Other Players
As we all know, in online poker scenarios, players are given a little help with understanding why which player won a hand. This can look different depending on which poker app or site you’re using. For instance, at the end of the hand, the winning cards may appear on the screen with an explanation of what hand it is. In other online or televised poker games, people are given updated information on how the players are playing and what styles they’re falling into. Of course, if you’re a player in a live game, this isn’t the case. In this instance, the player has to do the homework themselves. Studying players after the fold is the ideal chance to perfect this!
The best advice here is to break out a good old fashioned pen and paper. Of course - any smart device will work equally as well if you always want the info at hand. What’s more, it gives the illusion that your attention is out of the hand when in fact, you’re more focused than ever. From here, you need to start taking study notes on your rivals - especially if you think you’ll face them again in the future. What’s their most played move, their playing style and how often do they bluff? Keeping a written record of this behaviour won’t just help in the future hands of this game, but you can refer to them whenever you face these rivals in the future.
While you’re taking notes, don’t forget to include yourself! What’s your playing style? How do you react following pressure moves by opponents? How often do you bluff and how often does it pan out? Knowing the answers to these questions about yourself can help you far more than knowing them about others. This will progress your game for several reasons. Firstly, it will help you outline where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It’ll also allow you to form an idea of how other players may perceive you at the tables. From here, you can research the best way to play under this playing style and image, and devise potential strategies for future games. Get writing!
Replay a Hand in Your Head
In any game of a semi-professional nature and above, calls and raises aren't made without a motive. As previously stated, sitting out gives you the chance to pay close attention to the players in the current hand. However, it also provides the opportunity to reflect on a previous hand in the game that you haven’t the time to think about without distraction. Again, notes are useful here to keep the hand sharp in your mind. Try to outline the actions of all players in your chosen hand and think about what strategy you (and perhaps they) were attempting to pull off. You'll find this makes certain moves easier to recall when discussing hands and theorising with others after the game.
Chat to Other Players
This piece of advice is chiefly aimed at those who play in live poker games. Verbal communication is an important tool when it comes to live poker. A lot can be gleaned from the casual conversation around the table. Some shrewd and covert questioning can lead you to uncover another player's potential strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, but these musings can uncover how serious of a player they are or their experience level. It could even tell you if they’re happy, sad, drunk or on tilt! This is invaluable data that you can exploit later in the game. While there is no full-proof strategy for carrying out this advice, if executed correctly, there’s no telling what valuable gems you could unearth.
While it may seem like a lesser benefit, chatting will also improve your image at the table. This can be an advantage as a certain likeability will usually result in two perks. If people like you, they’ll not only be less likely to target any unnecessary attacks at you but it also means they’re more inclined to believe your bluffs. Our advice here is simply to plaster on a jovial smile, get chatty and go fishing for info.