How to Use Psychology to Win at Poker

We all know that poker is a game of intellect. And if you can trick your opponents into overbetting poor hands, you can make a lot of money. Read this article to see how you can achieve that.

Best Mind Tricks for Winning While Playing Poker

Have you ever noticed that the quality of your play changes from one week to another? One moment you’re on top of your game, the next you find yourself on the bottom. Every seasoned poker player will tell you that there will always be a ton of variance in this game, as well as that poker is played for the long haul. Patience, mental fortitude, and confidence are the qualities you should have besides excellent skill. So let’s start with your journey towards poker wisdom.

How to Read Your Opponents?

If you haven’t heard about famous poker bluffing, you must have seen it on many TV shows portraying it. The whole point of bluffing is to trick your opponents into thinking that you have a worse or better hand, forcing them to make the wrong move. That all sounds great on paper, but what do you think about the other way around? How about figuring out someone’s bluff and responding with one of your own? Don’t create someone else’s strategy — create your own by carefully observing other players and acting accordingly.

The Psychological Edge

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If you have definitely decided to step up your game, welcome to the next level. Let’s start with the bluffing strategy: pay attention to your opponents. Once you get the hang of their bluffing strategy, you will be able to respond with your own.

Ultimately, when you are at the poker table and your cards have been dealt, take a deep breath and give your best not to look at them immediately. Players tend to make this rookie mistake all the time.

While you’re examining your hand, you’re missing out on some crucial poker tells on your opponents, such as facial expressions and gestures the moment they receive their cards.

This time, you’re the analyst. Pay close attention to every move your opponents make. For example, it’s really important how they bet and how their chip stack looks like. In case there is a pile of messy and scattered chips — you’re most likely dealing with an occasional gambler who is there only to have a good time. However, if you notice organized towers of chips, you’re probably dealing with a nervous player. They are less likely to bluff due to their nervousness.

Furthermore, give your best to distinguish players’ playstyles. For example, if the opponent across from you is throwing their chips away and is entirely reckless about it until they collect them into a tower of chips again — this might indicate an experienced player who will most probably be a capable bluffer. So pay close attention to them since the ones with the most experience tend to switch from one style of playing to another to confuse anyone who is trying to analyze their behavior. Don’t get led around by the noose like that.

The Next Level

Since you managed not to look at your cards immediately and you paid more attention to your teammates, congratulations! Now it’s time to decode their behavior. Let’s focus on that first hand you’ll receive. How long do you tend to look at your cards? If it’s a right combination, do you continue to stare or stop looking? Well, that’s very important in decoding the behavior of your opponents.

If you notice a long stare at a hand, that almost always indicates a weak combination. So what if you catch someone who just glances over the cards and quickly puts them down? That’s right, they have a good hand. The explanation behind this is that the human brain needs time to process stress. A weak hand is a source of that possible stress. So work on your attentiveness and practice your memory to get an advantage in the game, no matter which hand you receive.

Top of the Game

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It is well-known that poker is a game made for socializing, occasional (moderate) drinking, and testing players’ skills. It is actually harming the game if any of the players are antisocial and quiet. This is a serious mind game, and talking and charisma are something you have to bring with you.

After all, sounds and gestures can tell a lot. There is no need to engage in an awkward conversation if the topic doesn’t interest you. However, if you’re an introvert outside this game, that needs to change immediately. You don’t have to be the queen of the party, but it certainly cannot bring you any harm. If you suspect that one of your opponents is bluffing, try talking to them. Bluffing almost always requires huge amounts of concentration, and it cannot be interrupted. If you engage in a friendly conversation, you might be able to see who’s bluffing or even tear someone’s bluff apart.

Also, another critical thing to keep in mind is that not all people handle pressure the same way. For example, if you see somebody confident and relaxed, you will most probably assume that this player has a strong hand. However, sometimes, that is just not true. Some people have troubles with handling such good luck at the time, so they get all nervous instead. On top of that, even with a weak hand, some people may seem confident and smiling from ear to ear. Most of the time, that’s all bluffing, and it will take a while for you to be able to distinguish between those subtle shades of the bluffing game.

Summary

Reading other players at the table shows that you are able to make an educated guess as to what exactly they are holding in their hand according to their facial expressions or gestures. Different players have many different tells or don’t have any at all. They can be tough to pick up, especially since everything is happening and changing in a split-second. However, always remember that, just because it’s not your hand at the moment, you should never let your guard down. So keep a mental notebook for each and every player and keep updating your conclusions. Take control of your mind and focus on your opponents since they are examining you too!