Poker question - Hold 'em

Why is it common, even in high-level games, to see players look at their cards more than once?

I’m assuming that for anyone with the skill to play at this level, remembering the suit and denomination of two cards is trivially easy. So do subsequent looks represent an attempt to influence opponents’ play? What can be the advantage in this?

I’m pretty sure it’s because they forget. You’re over thinking it. Sure sometimes there can be a psychological game at pretending to check if you have a straight or flush draw, but I’m sure more often than not it’s because people simply forget.

Its about that one time when you thought you had two spades in the pocket, but really had a spade and a club, and bet your “flush”, got called, and had to show everybody what a nitwit you are. It leaves a scar.

The best poker players don’t usually play based on their *exact *cards initially - they look to get a rough feeling for what they’ve got, then make most decisions based on that and the actions of the other players. It’s just not all that important to know your exact hand preflop, unless maybe if there is a large amount of raising going on.

After the flop, knowing your exact cards becomes progressively more important, but it still might not be necessary to know the exact suits, and a top player may still only be playing his opponents’ actions without much regard for the cards he’s holding.

When I do it, it’s because either:

A) “Wait a minute, what the hell do I have?

Sometimes you have to make sure they haven’t changed.

I think it’s out of habit more than anything. Kind of like bouncing the ball before a freethrow.

You’ve never played poker before, have you?

Say the flop comes down all clubs. You check your cards
You’re doing this for two reasons:

  1. You’ve forgotten whether you hold two clubs or a club and a spade.
  2. You want people to THINK you’ve forgotten whether you hold two clubs or a club and a spade.

The higher levels of poker you play, the more levels you need to go to suss out your opponent’s true intentions.

The experience of actually playing for a while helps answer this question.

Poker isn’t usually like what’s shown on TV.

After you’ve been grinding away for 8+ hours, hands run together. You lose focus, the people at your table have changed multiple times, the dealer has changed multiple times, you get hungry/thirsty, you’re tired, your back hurts from bad posture or seats, etc.

It’s incredibly difficult to be at the top of your game for so long. Sometimes you slip up. There have been times I played my previous hand, rather than my current hand after sitting through hundreds of deals.

Most players are good enough to remember what they had after one look, but it’s really easy to let your concentration slip, especially if you’re in it for the long haul, rather than expecting a a few big hands in a short amount of time.

And that’s actually a common physical tell. Fatigue happens to everybody - even the top pros. They aren’t, for the most part, damning, but it gets to be obvious when some players just aren’t in the game anymore. You have to adjust your play in response, i.e. if they look at their cards twice, it may just be fatigue or disinterest rather than a deliberate ploy.

I agree with everything that has been said so far, and let me add that I look at my hand a lot because it keeps my eyes busy. Your eyes are your most telling feature, so it’s best to keep them occupied. Staring straight ahead or at another player can give something away.

Yup, all of the above. Gives your eyes and hands something to do. Reminds the other players of draw possibilities you may want them to give you credit for. I’ve had some success in shitty games taking another look when the board pairs low cards and then raising - bad players will very often think you “discovered” that you now have trips. Works better against 5-year-olds and drunks, but ya gotta take any advantage you can get.

And sometimes you just plain forget, or never really knew (maybe you called in the small blind in a loose game with rags, but didn’t bother to memorize which rags they were - then the board comes 4-4-6 and suddenly it’s important to check whether you had T-4 or T-5).

If you sometimes need to check your cards you then have to sometimes check your cards when you don’t need to … to prevent your (aware) opponents knowing whether or not you really need to check your cards.

Regularly, and since long before poker got popular. Care to expand on why you apparently disagree with me and, you know, actually contribute to the thread, instead of tossing out a baseless and snarky rhetorical question?

When I played, it was more of something to do when I was thinking about what the opponant may have. Same thing when you see the pros stare at the board.

From what I’ve seen, they usually DON’T unless they’re giving them one last look before either a final call on the river, or mucking.