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
their Primary Motivation for playing
understanding their Strategy for
Primary Motivation – Find out why each player comes to play
each week. Are they looking to
money? Just have fun? Depending
motivation you may be able to
tell how a
player may react under certain
Strategy for Winning – Each player develops a strategy for winning.
This may be playing tight and
play only the best hands, or
maybe they feel
that bluffing is the best way
to win. Understanding
a players approach to the game
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
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
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
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
in a game. Sometimes a player
will be on
the edge of their seat waiting
for the next
card or their shoulders might
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
drink or eat to try to indicate
as if they don't care about the
will only eat or drink, especially
if they have been getting bad
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
about a hand or situation. This
indicate stress and the player
play differently than normal.
Be aware of
the emotional players and how
the other players at the table.
Chapter 4 – Betting Patterns
Every player develops a betting pattern for
their game. This pattern can change
time, but it usually requires a
effort. Focus on each aspect of
and how they react based on the
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
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
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
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
early keep the true players in
the game and
they will call you to the end?
it makes sense to hold your raises
the later rounds as you may have
in to call your raise. It all depends
the type of game and betting pace
follows. If the players in your
to raise early, decide early on
if your hand
will take you to the end. If they
raise later, you may be able to
hands longer than you would if
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
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
slow down the game. Eating, drinking,
etc. will all slow down the efficiency
a poker game. Try to keep your
on the game to ensure a faster
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