What are Levels of thinking In poker?

Question

As a poker viewer you may have heard me & many other streamers talk about levels. So what exactly does this mean? What are these levels? The long and short of it, it is trying to understand what level of thinking your opponent is on.

The more experienced a player is the trickier they become. For instance I’m sure you have heard the saying never bluff a fish, this is because their level of thinking is very low, as you would expect from a new player or recreational. An experienced player knows this and picks their bluffing spots accordingly. To pull off the best and most elaborate bluffs you have to have an understanding of what level of thinking your opponent is on.

Here’s an example of my level of thinking and trying to work out my opponents.

I was playing a hand against a good regular Omaha Hi/Lo player, a player who I had noted liked to just over min raise with a good starting low hand such as:

I was in the big blind and called the raise. I can not remember my exact holdings to be honest, in this example they are not relevant.

The flop came down:

The flop did not hit me in any way I had mostly a low hand, but I knew there was a very good chance this flop had missed my opponents raising range. The flop was rainbow so my opponent can not call an immediate bet on a flush draw.

I led out with a pot bet, my opponent tanked for a little while and re-raised me, I gave it some thought and I just didn’t believe my opponent. I asked myself does my opponent believe I am making a play here? This was a very strong possibility ,I knew my opponent was a good regular and I presume he knows the same about me. The level of thinking here was as follows:

There is a strong possibility he knows on this type of flop that I know that this is a board texture that will miss his opening range, therefore when I lead into him, he can presume I will be making plays in this spot, this allows my opponent to then re-raise bluff. Because I know this information, I know my opponent is a good player and is capable of making moves, I then re-raised him back, he gave it some thought, and then finally folded.
Against a lesser known player and against a player I did not believe to think on a multitude of levels I would not have tried to pull this off.

I hope this has given you some understanding as to what the term level of
thinking means in poker.

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