How to Read the Table and Become a Better Poker Player

When you sit down to play poker, the game becomes so much more than cards and chips. It becomes a test of, and a window into, human nature. It’s a test of patience and perseverance as well as a demonstration of how even a good player can be derail by poor decisions and bad luck. And yet, it’s one of the most enjoyable games to play with friends.

One of the reasons why poker is so interesting is because players are working with incomplete information. They’re constantly piecing together bits of information that their opponents are giving them. Each call, check, fold, raise, and even the way they go about their actions tells a story that the other players are using to build a picture of what they’re holding. Sometimes this is to figure out whether or not the opponent has a strong hand, and at other times it’s to work out how likely it is that they’ll bluff.

As a result, the game is constantly evolving. Some of the best players in the world make a living by studying other people’s behavior and learning to decipher these stories. This approach is called “reading the table,” and it’s a critical part of becoming a good poker player.


When starting out, beginners should play tight hands to maximize their chances of seeing the flop and then playing aggressively once they have a good hand. This is especially important when you’re on the button, where you’ll be in front of most of the other players and thus in a position to force your opponents to call. Beginners should also avoid bluffing early on, but you can throw in the occasional bluff when there is a decent chance that your opponents will actually fold.


Some players are so bad at poker that they make it completely obvious what they have in their hand. This is a huge mistake, because poker is a game of deception. If your opponents can see what you have, they’ll never pay off on your big hands and your bluffs won’t get through.

To keep the pot clear, players should do several shuffles after each round and before calling a bet. They should also be sure not to stack or pile their cards together, and they should always keep their best cards grouped tightly but separated from the rest. If a player isn’t following gameplay etiquette, the dealer should be on alert to warn them and call over the floor man if necessary. This will ensure that the pot stays clear for the next player. Moreover, it’ll prevent players from splashing the pot and blocking other players. It’s hard to do, but it’s essential for the game to run smoothly. This is an especially important point when playing with children or young relatives. It’s an excellent way to teach them about money management as well as the importance of taking turns and communicating with one another.