As I play more live poker, I see a lot of former online grinders, along with a huge number of live players in general, making the same common yet simple to avoid mistake: They re-check their hole cards at least one time during the hand.
It might be after their open raise is called, or just before the dealer spreads the flop, or on a flop with 3 of the same suit, or when a turn or river completes 4 to a flush, or any number of similar scenarios.
This is a big leak. When you re-check your hand, you are giving information away no matter how hard you try not to. Think about it – when a 4th spade falls on the turn and you sit motionless, you are certain to give away less than when you quickly glance back at your hand.
Although my live game has many leaks and lots of problems to work on, this is not one of them. When the cards are dealt, I’m in the habit of watching each player check their hand. I don’t look at my hand until I have to and when I do, I try to use the same routine and take the same amount of time no matter if I’m dealt the A A or the 92. This is a simple concept and if poker were taught in school, this would likely be taught on day 1.
However, what many fail to do after they initially check their hand is to make a mental note of the exact two hole cards. Some may be dealt the A A and immediately think, “I have aces!” but then not know what to do on a KQ7 flop. They inevitably have to re-check their hand and when they do so they are going to give away information no matter how hard they try not to. Since I already know my exact two hole cards, in situations like this I’m looking at the player while he is weakly checking his hole cards. This gives me an added edge in certain spots that may be quite tricky otherwise.
Don’t be the weak player who has to re-check his hand. Don’t give your opponents an edge to use against you. Work on immediately mentally visualizing & repeating the cards you are dealt, rank and suit, in your head as soon as you check your hand. Tell yourself, “ace of spades ace of hearts, ace of spades ace of hearts” and repeat it back in your head while you watch the rest of the table check their hands (hopefully, in this case, in reaction to your raise.)
Eventually, repeating your hand in your head will become a natural part of your routine and you’ll be the one with the edge.