NoMercy Monday: The Importance of Observation

NoMercy Monday: The Importance of Observation

In this strategy series, CoinPoker’s Chief Community Manager and pro poker player Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier walks you through the basics of the game. Each No Mercy Monday comes with expert advice on how to play,  and it all starts with starting hands.


Knowing how to play your starting hands, understanding the notion of position, the art of bluffing, and being aggressive, are four concepts that are part of the most important strategies in No Limit Hold’em Poker.

We covered these topics in the first chapters of this series of tips, and we will now move on to studying a more serious, but crucial and necessary, chapter about calculations and pot odds. Last week we started off by explaining drawing odds, and this week we will move on to the importance of observation.

Observation Is Imperative to Calculations

Notions such as calculations and pot odds might seem less exciting than the concept of bluffing, and a little duller than the chapter about being aggressive. But understanding poker odds is essential nevertheless, especially if you’re aiming to improve your poker game and extract as much value as possible from your sessions. 

Poker is a game of incomplete information and as such, the tools that I am sharing with you are necessary in order to make the best possible decisions. As we saw last week, there is a simple formula to know what your drawing odds are:

Multiply your number of outs by 4 on the flop and by 2 on the river to know what your chances are of making your hand. 

In order to do that or to do any other types of calculation, you will have to put your opponent on some kind of hand according to his range of play.”

Inversely, if you are not drawing but you are instead holding a made hand like a pair of Aces, then you can use the x4/x2 calculation to figure out the drawing odds of your opponent. Obviously, in order to do that or to do any other types of calculation, you will have to put your opponent on some kind of hand according to his range of play. 

This is where the concept of observation becomes imperative. In a poker game, even when you are not involved in a hand, you should be actively looking at everything that is happening and gathering as much information as possible on your opponents.

You should NOT be looking at your smartphone or the latest posts on your twitter feed while sitting at a poker table. 

You will have to adapt your calculations and compute your number of outs depending on what cards would give you the winning hand. In order to do that, you will first need to identify the type of hand that your opponent is most likely to be holding.

If you spend your time looking at anything else but the action unfolding at the poker table when you are not involved in the pot, you will have absolutely no knowledge about your opponents’ style of play, and you won’t be able to accurately estimate your number of outs.  

Stay tuned next week as we will cover some concrete examples on the subject, and don’t forget to join me weekly in the Hubble Bubble tournaments and Sunday’s Andromeda events to practice your skills and try to win my 10,000 CHP or 25,000 CHP bounties! 

– Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier

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