Different Levels of the thinking process in the game of Poker!

I saw this article on a poker teaching site and found it very interesting

The Different Levels of Thinking

In order to get beyond the cards you need to be thinking about your opponents and the situation you’re presented with. Here are the basic levels of thinking:

  • 1st Level – What cards do I have?
  • 2nd Level – What do my opponents have?
  • 3rd Level – What do they think I have?
  • 4th Level – What do they think I think they have?
  • 5th Level – Yes, you can keep going and going……

Theoretically we could keep going to deeper levels of thinking, but you’re only going to find a very limited percentage of players who are capable of thinking this deeply – and if they are, they’re probably over thinking the situation anyway.

While getting to deeper and deeper levels of thinking does mark a more mature stage of poker skill, the best players recognize if their opponents are even capable of thinking that deeply.

Personally I think right now, I would be at Level 3 however I believe one must always remember Level one as a priority. Please share your comments & if you believe in this theory, what Level are you right now ?


I think each hand progresses thru each level. Pre flop, do I have cards I should play, should I call, raise or fold? Then it moves into the second level, what is my opponent trying to do. What would they make that bet with. Flop: How strong is their hand or are they slow playing, If I bet now what am I representing do I want them to fold or call (or raise), If they raise what to they have and what do they think I c=have that they think they have me beat or are they trying to bet me off a hand. One of the reasons I love playing Omaha is it forces you to think more about reading your opponents, are they angling high or low, what card on the turn are they looking for, what are my outs, betting for protection and with each new card the story changes dramatically.


I would consider you my friend at a level 4 based on the criteria mentioned. Do you agree ?

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Poker is always a work in progress, there are times I get to that level 4 mindset and there are other times I am stuck in level 1. Regularly playing in a strong league can help you start to see how other players read you, your player style, and your tendencies. I’m working on it :slight_smile:


That article pertains to live cash games and not free online video poker.

You left off, Who’s on first?


And what makes it not relevant to online poker?

Once again Sir u were asked politely to NOT Troll Poker related topics b/c u Do Not Play and have really nothing but hot air to add to any subject

The Replay Community

Thank you @Craig_Anthony and @MinnowShark for your opinions, however this article pertains to thinking processes which may assist one in being successful and winning poker hands. I believe winning hands and pots are VERY important, playing online poker as well.


Once again, the article was written for live cash games. You could use some of the information that pertains to free online video poker games I suppose but don’t recommend it.

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@Craig_Anthony , Thank you very much for your opinion and GL at the tables my friend.


I think this is a great topic. How else to you build a solid foundation without understanding how you and your opponents think through a hand. Yes alot of players here don’t play by the book, which actually can make it more important you have that solid foundation so you can win in the long term. And keep pontificating my friend :slight_smile:

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R u kidding me this guy dismisses ur informative post. Then doubles down on his dismissal of it, stating some crap that it doesn’t relate to online poker w/absolutely No Clue what he is talking about and u thank the Old Troll.

What kind of Twighlight zone is going on here. He is flat wrong and needs to Stop Trolling the site Period. He Doesn’t play hardly at all and makes statements like “I don’t recommend it” Give me a break

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To be fair Mr Goat, there was more than a hint of irony in Litenin’s response, both polite and clever :slight_smile:


Sry I’m Real and blunt b/c some players may read what he says and take the bad advice. The Replay Community deserves better.

Not me, I must be on third because I’m busting at the bubble too many times and can only get one achievement award LOL

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@Goatsoup would you please help me to get back to the Original Post and what level of thinking are you in? I hope to reach Level 4 one day soon

Ok there a few factors that need to be taken into count here. So I’ll give u the very short version that can be expanded as the variables change. There is a big difference between Mtt play and Ring play b/c of the rebuy factor involved if the wrong decision is made. Mtt u bust ur gone, Ring u bust u can just reload if u wish. We will focus on Mtt play for this discussion.

  1. Your cards? This of course is a known factor by u Pre-Flop
    Better question is. How strong is my hand based on my Position? Another factor now is how have ur opponents played prior to my play? Did they limp? How many? Did someone raise and how much? Did they get called? Next factor now is how many players have to act after u therefore the closer to the Button the better.

Now it is ur turn to act and ur cards come into play. The question u need to ask ur self. What type of Winning hand can u make out of these holdings? Suited connectors/gappers to get straights or flushes, Power cards Ax, pocket pairs etc… (I suggest referencing tables that show hand strength). If u are to play the hand All the prior factors based on opponents play prior and possibly after need to come into play.

There are more Position factors that would also come into play. Those being of the position of the Mtt are at i.e beginning, middle, end. Ur position in the tournament bottom, middle, top of leaderboard. We will leave that to another discussion maybe in the future.

  1. Opponents cards? Unknown factor

    Here is where some good notes or familiarity with their type of play helps but u can narrow it down by observation of play. Are they limping into every pot? Raising every pot or to much? from what positions? What Position in the Mtt are they? What position on the table are they? Are they playing tight and not playing many pots?

  2. They think u have? This will depend on Position and bet size a factor now that will come into play. Post flop is the board texture and what they may believe ur starting range is again depending on ur Pre-Flop bet. Did u limp? Did u raise? From what Position and if raise, how much?

  3. What do they think u think they have?

    The best way to try to explain this in a nut shell would be. Does the story they are trying to tell make sense based on all the other factors of the hand. Pre-Flop position table and Mtt, bet size, board texture and if or if not they did make a better winning hand then u. Based on how they played the hand Post-Flop

    1. I could keep going and going. May be sometime I can go a bit more into how as the factors change during an Mtt u can adjust to give u a better chance to reach higher on the Leaderboards.

I understand I wrote this off the top of my head so it may not flow well. It is written so the player reading this can imagine themselves as u.

As u can see @Litenin ur post should not be dismissed but dissected into a learning tool to help players maybe get a bit better which is always the goal. U also have succeeded in opening a dialogue with The Goat and the Replay Community and hopefully I maybe able to give a bit more Insite into how I approach the game of Poker.

Hope this might be helpful to someone and as always best of luck at the table.

Take care of yourselves and I will try to do the same.

The Goat :goat: :slight_smile:


I didn’t express an opinion.


I find your post to be very informative and helpful, Sir Goat.
I attempt to have all these kind of thoughts running through my mind when playing in MTT’s.
It’s helpful to be sharp and quick about these thoughts when you’re playing a hand, and even after you’ve folded. Being really focused about everything going on is important.

For whatever odd reason, seems my luck/play fairs better when chatting rather than not.
Besides that, it’s more fun.
Another strange thing, which certainly isn’t true with live poker, is that I often seem to play/fair better when I’ve been drinking, lol. Just awhile back, sadly I’d finished my whole sixpack of talls and was out of beer, wound up 2nd after playing 173 hands headsup. No S…t!


I was hoping for a more advanced player or players to accept the method and improve it, in a more detailed form. I believe his methodology, could be worded in any way to accomplish the goal of helping others and achieve a certain goal, in any subject matter.
Thank you very much @Goatsoup for expanding the method in detail to help others. I believe you are definitely higher than a level 5 IMO, my friend :smile: