I have now gotten back into the game, playing more frequently both live and online. My favorite game is a live cash game, however when I'm online I will often play a mix of SnGs, MTTs and cash games. I have decided to try to improve my game and continue treating poker very seriously. In an effort to do so, I have gona back to my poker books. I own 3 poker books (apart from the countless poker books I have online), which are : Power Hold'em Strategy, by Daniel Negreanu; Super System (A course in power poker), by the legend himself, The Old Papa Doyle Brunson; and Play Poker Like The Pros, by Phil Hellmuth Jr.
The books are great especially if you are looking to learn a new poker variation. Daniel Negreanu's book just focuses on Texas Hold'em though. "Play Poker Like The Pros" is great because it offers insight into the popular variations of poker from a Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced point of view. This makes it easier for the reader to understand how the game is played and how strategy and playing styles develop as you advance in the game. In a nut shell, what I have learnt from that book is that one of the most importants aspects of a winning poker player is the ability to put your opponent on a hand. Some pros seem to have a 6th sense when they start calling out an opponent's hole cards. However, what you will eventually learn is that this is a skill developed by years of experience and playing a lot of hands with different opponents.
Some important points on this issue:
1) You should always stay focused at the poker table, regardless of whether you are in the hand or not (Remember that you may go through hours of not playing a hand) - Use this time well to observe your opponents and try to develop an understanding of their play. By constantly observing their body language and betting patterns, eventually you will also be able to call out their hands.
2) Phil Hellmuth suggests that you consider this as a game, where at the end of each hand (After having observed the hand) you call out what you think a player has. Of course, he might not always be obliged to tell you the truth and show you the hand..but when he does show the hand down, you can see how accurate you were. Hopefully, after trying this out for a number of sessions, your reading ability will improve.
3) The best way to master this skill is to first start by putting your opponent on a range of hands rather than two particular cards. Ranges can be categorized in the following way: Big pocket pairs, Medium Pairs, Small Pairs, Suited Connectors, Big Picture Cards, Rag Aces (An Ace with a weak kicker), etc.
I am sure that after applying these main points during your poker sessions, you too will be able to master the magical art of guessing accurately your opponent's hand. By constantly observing their play, you will get inside their mind and start understanding the way they are thinking.
That's all for now. Hopefully I will have some time soon to talk about the other two books.