If you have ever sat down at a poker table, one fact must have been abundantly clear – everyone at the table is trying to abscond with your money, and to do so they are trying to trick you. Poker is, as many would attest, a game of skill. In order to be a top earner, or even sufficient, you will have to adapt to the psychology behind the game of poker. Simply knowing which hands win, which hands lose, and how the game flows is simply not enough. You will need to know when and how to psych out your opponents – as well as avoiding them doing the same to you.
For all intents and purposes, we will focus primarily on Texas Hold ‘em. As one of the most commonly played types of poker, and indeed the most televised, Texas Hold ‘em is the game that many poker fans have turned to. Since Hold ‘em is broken down into four rounds of betting, you will have sufficient opportunities to be the puppet master over your opponents, or have the tides turned against you.
Assuming you already understand the basics, let us begin with the pre-flop betting round. Folding weak hands is almost always advisable, depending on your play style. A well rounded, adaptable play style is suggested, though when you first sit at a table it is best to establish one type of play togel and stick to it religiously. This will allow you to ultimately throw your opponents off guard when you play in a wildly different manner. If you convince your opposition that you only play the best and the brightest hands, they may be more willing to fold under your pressure – even if you have nothing.
In order to sufficiently set a stage, you will have to play the part. If you are a bad liar, you may want to reconsider anything found here in. Bluffing is essential, but only when the time is right. Many top players will say that tight aggressive is the best way to play, and after some experience with this style, you may agree. By playing tight aggressive, you will not be in on many hands, but those in which you are active, you will be playing hard and fast. Pre-flop raises, continuation bets, and similar tactics are common with the tight aggressive player.
This strategy works well against most play types, and can even crush the infamous poker bully if played properly. Once you have established yourself as this sort of player, you can then turn the tides and abuse the psyche of your opposition. If you can thoroughly convince your opposition, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you are set in your ways, you can abuse their trust and begin to take down more pots. You will not want to bluff on every hand, as they will soon learn that you are being fake, thus making your sound strategy turn trite.
Knowing When to Hold and When to Fold
If you do begin to use a bluffing strategy, you will have to remember that not every hand can be a winner. If you are trying to bluff, the amount you bet can make or break your return on investment. You will need to spend some chips in order to successfully put off your opponent, but always be wary of the check raise, or indeed any raise. If you are trying to bluff, three to five times the blinds would be a wise bet. If your opponent calls, you may want to fold – especially if you carry no weight, before or after the flop. Knowing when you are beaten is essential, so keep in mind that folding is not always a bad thing. Conversely, you will usually let your opponent know that you were bluffing if you fail to meet their raise. Maintaining an air of carefree arrogance can help, but you will not want to throw away your fortune simply because your pride or fear got the better of you – especially if they are counter bluffing.
Avoiding A Bluff
Since you want to be the puppet master and not the puppet, you will have to learn your opponents. Sitting at the table is simply not enough to learn about the enemy. You must watch your opponent’s every move, learning their habits and their flaws. If you can pick up on their distinguishing features, you should be able to avoid the lies they wish to tell at the tables. Over raising and shoving all in are two signs that they either have nothing or a powerful hand, and it can easily be determined which. A high raise from under the gun is typically a solid hand, though the big blind raising after everyone has limped into the pot is a sure sign of a stolen pot. An all in shove with no possibility of a straight or better on the table is also a good sign of a bluff, but as is the converse. If a flush or straight draw is showing, provided it is a middle straight, then there is a good chance your enemy is bluffing.
Misreads To Avoid
If you think your opponent is working his or her way into your psych, you will have to tread lightly. As a rule of thumb, always calculate the possibilities in the community cards. If the board is showing a flush, you may want to fold that set or two pair you are holding. Pocket aces may be a solid starting hand, but they can be cracked. Your worst enemy? The check raise. Check raising is a tactic that can easily turn the tables against you, and you can always be assured that the cocky grin and the large raise is a sure sign of a solid hand. If you are attempting to bluff it out, you may want to consider folding to the check raise. If your enemy happens to bet pre-flop then fails to make any continuation bets, you may also want to apply pressure.
The fact of the matter is, you can never be certain. Poker psychology is completely dependent on a number of variables, not the least of which is the cards, both apparent or otherwise, as well as the players involved. No tactic will always work, no players will always be the same. Poker is a game of adaptation as much as it is deception, so make yourself flexible. The moment you become a static player is the moment you start to lose.