Ask: What do they have?
Bart Hanson tweeted something the other day that was seemingly innocuous, but is actually quite profound. He wrote: "If you aren't asking yourself 'what does this guy have' during a hand, you're doing something wrong." In other words, if you're not playing at least level-2 poker, you're not really playing poker. Instead, you're playing some kind of rote game in which you look at your cards and make a set play based on position and board texture. Folks, that's losing poker. To beat this game, you have to put your opponent on a range. Period. All kinds of factors come into play, and at first you'll probably not be very good at hand reading. But with some work, you can begin to make really clear and accurate reads. Start simply. For example, just think about what hands you play in different positions, and then assign that range to your opponent given his or her position. Will this range be correct? Probably not, but it's infinitely better than not assigning a range. Then, when the flop comes out, ask yourself what hands beat yours on this board. Go back to the range you put the opp on, and ask how much of that range hits the flop and beats you. In other words: THINK. Don't play rote poker, or you will never win. Instead, ask yourself, What does this villain have? Only then will you be playing real poker.
All-in for now...