Poker Timing

Timing is everything, or so they say. Well, I’ve noticed recently that in poker, virtual or physical, you can tell a lot about your opponents’ hands by just watching the amount of time it takes them to make a bet; and you know what that means – it means that they can tell the same about you.

We’re not robots, we can’t produce results the same every time, according to the same timing pattern no matter if we have a royal flush or a pair of twos; however, what we can do is try to be a little aware of how quickly we bet, how fast our opponent is acting, and from that be able to portray the image that we want as well as read the hands of those who aren’t aware of the importance of this.

Now of course it’s not foolproof, and if your opponent is a weathered player he may be aware of the importance of betting speeds and over compensate the other way to throw you off your tracks, which is why general rules are good but no substitute for intuition or the reading of body language. None-the-less I think that there are general rules that can be identified even if they are not always to be followed.

If someone is very quick to check it may be sign of weakness; if he has something why wouldn’t he be betting on it, a quick jump to safe ground indicates a whole lot of nothing. A quick bet could also indicate the same; making up for lack of cards by over confidence. An instant call on the other hand, indicates strength and in an interim betting round this is important to remember. A quick call means that the player has no question about staying in the game, but doesn’t raise possibly because he doesn’t want to scare off the other players and thereby diminish what will ultimately be his pot. A pause before betting, in my opinion is usually indicative of strength, not necessarily a royal flush, but certainly good cards; the reason I think this is because it indicates honesty rather than a bluff.

These are just my observations, and for all I know it may be more a reflection of my poker buddies than indicative of what all poker players do. However, the point is, even if you don’t follow my general rules, start paying attention to how quickly people jump in, and try to fit together the pieces of the puzzle in order that you can understand what that timing means. For example a quick bet on the flop followed by a slow call on the turn, followed by a fold, will tell you that that person’s quick bet means nothing; useful information for the next time he jumps in with guns blazing.

Try it; start paying attention to timing and I promise you’ll be shocked at how much information you can pick up.

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