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Winning Methods of
Bluffing & Betting
by Lynne Taetzsch

  • Chapter 1 Reading Cards
    • Basic Reading Skills Use the exposed cards to know what possible hands your opponents may have. Practice dealing out hands (7 stud) and try to figure out what each hand may have (flush, etc.) or deal 3-5 cards (hold'em) and figure out what are the best hands possible.
    • Betting Observations Pay attention to what cards are dealt when a player decides to start betting/raising or if they stop betting/raising. Chances are that the card helped or hurt them based on their actions. Also pay attention to what they do on previous rounds and compare that to their actions on the current round. If they are betting when a flush card is dealt, then check when the next card doesn't help, then bets when another flush card is dealt they probably made their flush.
    • Peeking, Showing, Touching Sometimes people will peek at their cards to see if the current card helped them or not. Pay attention if it's a potential straight or flush, or possibly a pair card. Players that show their cards to inactive players probably have a hand and want others to know about it. Sometimes people will touch their cards when they like them, or try to protect them when they feel they are strong.
  • Chapter 2 Reading Players, General
    • In home poker games there are 2 principles that should be understood to read a player, their Primary Motivation for playing and understanding their Strategy for Winning.
      • Primary Motivation Find out why each player comes to play each week. Are they looking to gamble? Make money? Just have fun? Depending on their motivation you may be able to tell how a player may react under certain circumstances.
      • Strategy for Winning Each player develops a strategy for winning. This may be playing tight and looking to play only the best hands, or maybe they feel that bluffing is the best way to win. Understanding a players approach to the game (tight/loose/aggressive/etc.) will help you understand the plays to expect from that player.
    • The poker group or table will also influence how some players play. Some tables are sociable while others may seem more aggressive. This atmosphere will affect how some players react to certain situations. A typically aggressive player may play more passively at a social table, while a passive player may play more aggressively at an aggressive table.
    • External conditions can also affect how a player performs. Hunger, thirst, hot, cold, tired, etc. can all influence a player. Pay attention to how the other players are feeling and how it affects their game. A tired player is apt to make mistakes.
    • Observe and learn what motivates each player in your group and how they react to different circumstances.
  • Chapter 3 Reading Players, Specific
    • Many players exhibit certain behaviors or physical reactions based on their hand and the what they are trying to do with it (bluff, check-raise, etc.) It is important to understand what each reaction means for each player. Something might mean one thing about a certain player, but the opposite for another.
      • Change in Voice - Does a players voice change pitch or volume? Do they stutter or talk quickly? Try to identify what each change means about that players hand.
      • Idle Fingers - Does a player unconsciously fondle his chips when he's in a big hand? Is the player preparing his chips for calling a bet or even raising? Is he trying to intimidate you or simply getting his chips ready?
      • Facial Movements - A players face will usually give something away about their hand. Even the best poker players have trouble keeping their facial muscles under control. Focus on some of the weaker "poker faces" first to find out what their facial movements mean, then try to tackle the more controlled players. Focus especially on their eyes and mouth.
      • Nervous Habits - Some players have nervous habits that become more evident during certain situations. This can be a laugh or twitch that they do when the are nervous or excited. Keep an eye out for these and try to identify what they mean.
      • Attention - A players attention to the game can indicate the strength of their hand. Some players will look dis-interested when they have a weak hand, watching TV or telling a joke. Others will try to look dis-interested when they have a powerhouse hand trying to fool you into betting/calling. Pay attention to how a player reacts after viewing his cards. Does he pay attention to the currently active player or does he act as if he doesn't care what is happening in the game? What does that mean for that player?
      • Posture - The way a player sits at the table can indicate their level of attention and interest in a game. Sometimes a player will be on the edge of their seat waiting for the next card or their shoulders might be drooping and they look depressed and uninterested. Be aware of a player's posture and how it affects/reflects their play.
      • Eating and Drinking - Pay attention to when a player decides to eat or take a sip of their drink. It may tell you about their hand. Some players will drink or eat to try to indicate weakness, as if they don't care about the hand. Others will only eat or drink, especially alcohol, if they have been getting bad hands.
      • Smoking - Similar to eating and drinking, a player may light their cigar/cigarette/pipe when they are nervous or trying to seem dis-interested. Also pay attention to how non-smokers react to the smokers as the game goes on. Do they get more irritated by the smoke or do they seem more accepting.
      • Emotion - Sometimes a players emotions will get the best of them and they will react strongly about a hand or situation. This will usually indicate stress and the player will likely play differently than normal. Be aware of the emotional players and how it affects the other players at the table.
  • Chapter 4 Betting Patterns
    • Every player develops a betting pattern for their game. This pattern can change over time, but it usually requires a conscious effort. Focus on each aspect of their betting and how they react based on the cards they are playing.
      • Opening - Understanding a player's opening requirements will help you identify which hands to expect. Some players will have tighter opening standards and will be easier to recognize.
      • Raising - Similar to opening standards, players adapt certain raising standards. There are two primary reasons to raise, to build the pot and eliminate competition. Some players will raise simply to create action. They like to have money in the pot. Others only raise for a reason. Try to identify the tight raisers and the loose raisers and give more respect to the tight raises. Harder to identify are the raises that are geared to eliminate players. These can be early raises with no follow-up raising on later rounds or a raise right after a bet or raise forcing players to call 2+ bets. Understand what type of raise a player is making to help you identify the strength of their hand.
      • Changes in Betting Patterns - Players tend to change their betting patterns from game to game and session to session. Sometimes it will be triggered by a long losing or winning streak or they make a conscience effort to change because of a book or article they read or they just feel their pattern isn't working. Watch other players and be alert for when a player seems to be changing his betting pattern and adapt to his new style.
      • Staying and Minimizing the Bet - Some players try to stay in a pot for as little money as possible. They may have a system they follow to decide how to stay in the pot for as little money as possible. It could be based on how much money they have already invested into the pot or how strong they think their draw may be. Perhaps they will raise only the minimum to avoid a more costly raise or they will just call a bet waiting for their magic card. Sometimes when a hand doesn't materialize they decide to start bluffing and raise. Try to understand why each player is in the hand and what their check, call or bet means and take advantage of them. Are they trying to minimize the bet?
      • Conservative Players - These players don't take many chances. Their play can become predictable and limit their ability to win large pots. Also called a 'tight' player, these players only bet or raise when they are confident they have the best hand and will win the pot. They are not interested in "gambling" or hoping for that longshot card to fall. Respect this type of player's bet or raise, as most of the time they will have the best hand.
      • System Players -These players are conservative players as they tend to play according to a certain system. Without knowing their system, their play may seem erratic, so pay attention to how they play. If you play according to a system, mix it up occasionally to avoid other players to identify your system. Use your system as a guide, but not as a rule.
      • Actors and Reactors - The extreme active player only plays his own cards ignoring the other players. The extreme reactive player only plays his opponents ignoring his own cards. Most players tend to lean toward one of these types of categories (few players fall into the extreme side, either way). A system player is more of an active player, focusing on his own cards. He works out the probabilities of his hand realizing it's value and beating the other players. A reactive player bases his play on his hand's relative value in the current situation. He may raise with a pair of 5's one game, but fold a better hand because he figures it's already beaten. Reactive players tend to be the big winners, as they know when they are beaten and when they are ahead. Understand what type of player you are up against to know whether he's more concerned with his cards or the other players. It takes a lot of skill/practice to be a good reactive player and players who are not good at it tend to lose more money than the active players.
      • Position - Position is very important in game where the betting order is the same during all betting rounds. If you act later, you get the added information of what the players before you are going to do. Also, who sits to your left or right can also impact your play. If you have an aggressive raiser sitting to your right, you can let them do your raising for you or get out when you don't have a hand. If that same player was on your left, you would have to act first and not know if they are going to raise it after you call. Therefore you would prefer to have the more aggressive players to your right (see their actions first) and passive players on your left (more predictable).

  • Chapter 5 Betting Pace
    • What's the Betting Pace in your Group - Betting pace can greatly influence the amount of money that exchanges hands during a poker session. Generally the good players make more money as the pace gets quicker and the poor players tend to lose more. Social atmosphere, number of decks (shuffle one, deal the other) and amount of raising will affect the betting pace of a poker game. Also pay attention to the effect raises have on the game.
    • Use the Betting Pace to your Advantage - Do early raises tend to drop many players they may call a raise later? Does raising early keep the true players in the game and they will call you to the end? Sometimes it makes sense to hold your raises until the later rounds as you may have more people in to call your raise. It all depends on the type of game and betting pace your game follows. If the players in your game tend to raise early, decide early on if your hand will take you to the end. If they tend to raise later, you may be able to play some hands longer than you would if there were many early raises.
    • How to Influence the Betting Pace - One way to influence the betting pace is controlling the amount of your bet or whether or not to raise. It will depend on how your group reacts to these actions. Try different things and note how people react.
    • Types of Games Played - Certain types of poker games offer more betting rounds and some offer less. Draw poker for example only has 2 betting rounds. 7 card stud has 5 betting rounds. The number of betting rounds will also affect the betting pace of your group. Play the games that you feel most comfortable playing that will maximize your profits.
    • Chips or Money - Chips will allow your game to go much faster as people won't have to worry about making change or dealing with all the cash on the table. Cash will slow the game down as it can be messier and difficult to play with. Also players tend to be more willing to throw a $1 chip in the pot rather than an actual dollar bill.
    • Efficiency - Everything else that happens during a poker game, aside from poker, can slow down the game. Eating, drinking, conversation, etc. will all slow down the efficiency of a poker game. Try to keep your group focused on the game to ensure a faster betting pace.
    • Raising the Stakes - If you are a winning player and you feel that the betting pace is not netting you enough profit, you may want to suggest raising the stakes. Depending on your group, this may be welcomed or dismissed. If you are set on playing for higher limits, you don't have to leave your current game, but you may want to find another one to play on another night.
  • Chapter 6 Building Pots
    • Under Construction ...
  • Chapter 7 How to Read a Bluff

  • Chapter 8 Bluff Your Cards

  • Chapter 9 Bluff Your Style

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