1. I’m just going to list everything:
    – What happened pre-flop
    – What opponent did on flop
    — If he raised, how much. If he called, how much.
    – What happened on turn
    – What happened on river that would induce a big decision play.
    – What opponents acting like
    – What opponent’s body’s doing
    – What opponent’s saying
    – What he’s saying might mean
    – How much should I raise
    – How much should I bet

  2. They think about many things, such as what they are going to bet, why their opponent bet there, so many reasons. I’ll put this question on my 360 page of poker playing, and answer it to everyone in my next blog.

    BTW, check out my poker blog on my 360 page.

  3. Most of it is trying to put an opponent on a hand based on all the usual criteria. Often when an opponent seems especially deep in thought, he’s searching the depths of his memory banks trying to remember what his opponent was holding, what was on the board, how his opponent (and others in the hand) played pre- and post-flop, who was/ were his opponent(s), what was his position, etc. in similar previous situations… sometimes stretching back over the course of months.

    Also, some pros are very good at using table talk to glean information, so they’ll spend a ridiculous amount of time chatting the other up in hopes he’ll reveal something about his hand. Sometimes, even at the pro level, something as simple as a usually chatty player now acting a bit more reserved, provides crucial information.

    Also, of course, they’re counting the pot, calculating odds, etc.

    But mostly, I think, they’re playing to the camera. Let’s be honest, rarely does a player, even after a considerable amount of thought, decide on a course of action different than what his initial reaction would have been to do. However, many of the TV pros, even if they know how they’re going to proceed, like to soak up a little extra camera time when possible. The cameras can change things a bit, though, as no one wants to be bluffed on TV, others get an especially big jimmy if they know the viewers at home or in a bar somewhere witnessed their especially good decision, and some just like to think out loud (Negraneau, Hellmuth, etc.) perhaps in order to appear even smarter to the viewers.

  4. Like professional chess players, professional poker players are able to reconstruct a hand in their mind, and replay it a bit at a time.

    So when faced with a difficult decision they will start by thinking about what the opponent did in every single betting round that has gone before. What was their body language? What two cards are they likely to have to follow that betting pattern? What is their stack size relative to other players? How many players are still in the hand? If the player has a made hand, what are the odds that the opponent will outdraw (like trips versus a flush draw)? How much money does the player have to put in the pot, versus the odds of making their hand? What are the odds they have the best hand? What are the implied odds of making a call here? What are the implications of raising here? Is it mathematically correct to call, raise or fold here? How do the implied odds affect the math? Is the prize structure of the tournament such that it’s worth gambling here (for example Poker After Dark is a winner takes all structure)? What does the player know about the tendencies of the opponent (often they will have studied their opponents playing on TV)? What is the table image of each player involved in the hand? Is someone on tilt? Is someone playing differently knowing the hand is being televised? What is the texture of the board?

    There’s probably a lot more I’ve missed. But there are dozens of things to consider and make educated guesses on. The better the professional the more he has to think about. The more money is at stake, the more it would behoove a person to spend some time thinking. One wrong move can often be very costly, and also be professionally embarrassing if it is shown on TV.

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