Take Advantage of Betting Patterns in Poker

When you think of a tell in poker, the first thing that comes to mind is facial expressions, nervous hands, sweating, or any other physical tell. The truth is a player’s betting pattern is the number 1 tell in poker.

What hands do they play, from what position, if they check, raise, or call, these are all habits that you can catch on to. Narrowing down the range of your opponent’s hands and how the bet can be the largest advantage you can have at the table.

General Betting Patterns

There are three basic betting patterns to look for. They include:

– Bet, Bet, Call This is a sign of a strong hand on a draw

– Call, Call, Raise This is a sign that an opponent has hit the board and has been slow playing

– Raise, Raise, Raise This is a sign of strength or a player on Tilt

It will take a few rounds of betting before you can begin to see these patterns.

How Opponents Play Position

You can begin to tell an opponent’s range of hands even without seeing them. How they play in different positions will tell you how tight or loose of a player they are.

Early Position

A player that folds or only calls when in an early position is very likely a tight player.  If an opponent is calling the majority of hands from the early position, the odds say they are playing weaker cards.

Late Position

In late position, aggressive players will almost always raise. You will need to call with any medium to strong hands to get a good read on what cards they are playing.

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Defending Blinds

A common pattern by many weak players is not defending their blinds, you should raise these players frequently. Stealing blinds is often overlooked by average players but is an important strategy, especially in tournament play.

You will also encounter players that will defend their blinds no matter what. You want to place a strong raise against these players when you have a premium hand. Make them pay for defending their blinds in a weak position.

Betting Based on Hand Strength

You will be surprised at the number of players that size their bet based on their hand strength. This is the easiest kind of betting pattern to catch on to.

Once you have recognized this specific betting pattern taking advantage is fairly uncomplicated. You will also need to pay attention to the range of hands a player will bet and raise with. There is a strong correlation between players’ betting patterns and hand range.

How Opponents Bet After the Flop

When a player checks, it shows a sign of weakness. Tight players will often check when they have a weak hand. If a player raises pre-flop and then checks on the flop, it’s likely they have missed the flop. In the right position, you can take advantage of this.

When a player checks and then calls, this is a sign that they have a drawing hand. These are both easy patterns to catch on to. Also, look for players that will raise pre-flop and only call the flop. These opponents often over slow play their hands.

Continuation Bets

The continuation bet is often overused by many players. You will find that there are opponents that will always place a continuation bet when they raised pre-flop. Knowing their hand range, you can take advantage by paying attention to the board.

If the flop doesn’t hit their normal range of hands and they bet, you can be sure it is a continuation bet. Raising here can cause often cause your opponent to fold.

Drawing Hands

You will see a number of players that aggressively go after draws. This is not always a sign of a weak player, but you need to make a strong raise to force them to pay for seeing the turn or river.

Some players will even call without the right pot odds; keep these players in the hand with a pot-size bet. Playing draws is all about odds, and making players that call draws with negative expectations will win you money in the long run.


Remember that you need to see a pattern more than just once or twice. The more you see a pattern, the more certain you can be about taking advantage of your opponent.

Most amateur players are so fixated on their own cards they don’t pay attention to betting patterns. Once you begin to recognize these patterns, you can use them to your advantage.