Reading Opponents at the Final Table

Poker ReadsPoker can be described as a game of information.  You are constantly making decisions partially based on information you have accumulated during the tournament to that point.

When you have reached the final table you should have a good idea on the character of your opponents as you should of had the chance to observe or play them throughout the late stages of the tournament.

So you should have accumulated enough information on these players throughout the last hour or so to size up their game and skill.

Whether you are involved in a hand or not there is always information available for you to use at a later date.

  • Are they a tight player or have they been playing a lot of hands?
  • Do they always raise when entering a pot or do they just limp?
  • Have they sucked out a few times to reach the final table or have they just been winning with the best hands?

These are just some of the questions you should be getting the answers to throughout a tournament to give you an idea of what you are up against, and the best way to counter each player.

I was involved in the late stages of a tournament recently where I noticed a particular player raising pots early and not just raising but raising big.  He was also involved in a lot of pots. To me this speaks to a player who is unsure about his game.

Why? Because in the few pots where he had to show his hand, it was a marginal hand at best and he had hit the flop.  So he was raising big early in the tournament and started really pushing when we got down to 5 players.  There was one player between us and he was to my right.  That player was eliminated and for the next 4 hands when I was the big blind he would push all in.

I let him have it but I knew from the information I had accumulated on him and just basic probability that he didn’t have premium hands every time I am in the big blind.  I had enough chips to wait him out and on the fifth time he once again pushed and I called with A-10. That additional information allowed me to feel confident making the call with a weaker hand. I was spot on and he had Q-7.

The point was that I had collected enough information to wait and make the correct call.  He now NEEDED the luck to win the hand.

I highly recommend using the players notes available to you online to give you a little edge against any player you come up against.  In tournaments where players change tables continuously they can be valuable in helping you size up your opponent quickly and make correct decisions.

Poker is a game of information.  The more you collect the bigger your edge!

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