GETTING A read on an opponent can involve a variety of factors, from betting patterns to your history with that player to physical tells. The sooner you determine your read, the better, obviously. But sometimes those same clues can change your thinking in the middle of a hand, and if you're alert, you can drag a nice pot.
An example of that comes from the 2007 World Poker Tour's $15,000-buy-in Doyle Brunson World Poker Classic at Las Vegas' Bellagio. Blinds were $50-$100, meaning players had big stacks that gave them opportunities to take more flops in hopes of outplaying opponents.
Well-known pro Burt Boutin open-raised to $300 from middle position. Erick Lindgren, winner of WPT and World Series of Poker titles, called from late position with A-7 of hearts.
"It gets around to the small blind," Lindgren said. "She raises to $1,200. Burt calls, and I call the $1,200. I think she has a big pair here." The flop came 8-9-10, two diamonds. The woman in the small blind bet $1,500. Boutin folded.
"I think she's protecting an overpair," Lindgren said. " So I just call." The turn came the 10 of diamonds, pairing the board and putting three flush cards on the board.
"That's a good scare card," said Lindgren. "She checks. I bet $3,500 to build the story in case another scare card comes on the river." His opponent called. The river came the ace of clubs.
"So, I make an ace," Lindgren said, "She looks at her chips, then she checks. I think she's trying to fake me out to make me believe she likes that card, but I didn't believe she liked that card.
"She might have A-K and I could already be dead. Maybe she's going to check-raise, but I was pretty sure my read was right, and I bet $5,000." Lindgren's opponent called, then mucked her cards when she saw his ace. "The greatest lesson in poker is changing on the fly," Lindgren said. "I went from bluffing with nothing and not sure I could get away with it to value-betting and knowing almost 90 percent that I was good." *