Reading the Player

Compared to other forms of poker such as Texas Holdem Poker games, there is a limited amount of information available in 5-card draw on which to base your decisions. This means that watching the tendencies of opponents over a number of hands becomes relatively more important. Every time there is a showdown you will be given valuable information which can help you win future pots. This article gives you 5 things to look out for in your opponents play to help you make more money in draw poker games.

1 – Opening Hands From Early Position Experienced 5-card draw players tighten their opening hand requirements from the first 2 positions at the table – especially in a pot-limit game in which you may be raised out of a hand pre-draw. It can pay to watch for players who enter pots from early position and note the hands they are coming in with. A weak player who enters with too many hands can make a great candidate for a position re-raise with a speculative hand.

2 – Standing Pat Too Often Pat hands do not come around too often in 5-card draw – as our 5-card draw odds chart clearly shows. Inexperienced players will often see that standing pat as a bluff is profitable on many occasions and will tend to over-use this move. If you spot a player who is standing pat once every 20 hands (for example) then you have a profitable call on many occasions.

3 – Raising 2-Pairs But Limping + Calling A 1-Card Draw Some passive players will raise the majority of the time when they have 2 pair, yet call pre-draw with a 4-flush or open ended straight draw. This player is defining their hand when drawing one card and is thus easy to exploit after the draw. For example limping in early position, drawing one and then checking is far more likely to be a busted draw than 2 pair – allowing you to react accordingly.

4 – Deceptive Or Straightforward? Whether a player will deliberately draw a number of cards to disguise their holding is a valuable read for future pots. The classic example is when a player raises before the draw then takes a single card while holding trips (representing 2-pairs). Remember to adjust your estimate of future hands for this player accordingly.

5 – Large River Bets. Some players will make large river bets when they would like you to fold and others when they would like to be called. Figuring out what these bets mean for each player can be very profitable over time – both in terms of bets saved and bets won. This information is particularly valuable when your opponent acts last. Since most (rational) players will check a medium strength hand the large bet is more likely to be polarized between a bluff and monster hand. Once you figure which this is for each player at your table then your poker profits will drastically improve.