Different players will arrange the chips into all sorts of different shapes and sizes – look for pyramids or hadrians wall shapes or just a random big mess. Someone playing with a pyramid is likely to be fairly aggressive but protective of their chips. Hadrians wall (a long line of stacks of 20 or whatever) is going to be slightly looser and a bit more fearful of raises (so i’ve come to find) and someone with chips all over the shop will most prob play their game the same.
Poker is as much about psychology as it is about strategy and knowledge. If you can combine all these things then you are well on your way to being a well rounded poker player. All people are different but by taking on board many different factors you can build up a mental picture of how and why someone might react to a situation and use this to form detailed projections of their potential holdings. The more you watch and the more information you can pick up on and retain, the better the advantage / ability to be more accurate with your decisions.
The pyramid chip stack is a stack of chips arranged in an arrow like formation with the point facing in towards the middle of the poker table. Often these stacks will have several levels to them with a further smaller pyramid being added on top of a larger base pyramid. You can often pick up on tells from players who are defensive by keeping their larger value chips at the back nearest them, or if they have larger chips at the front then it is possible to assume they are a fairly aggressive player who likes to have larger chips easily accessible ready for raising.
Does the guy with the pyramid tower not like to break into a new tower of chips if put to the question? I know I don’t! If he doesn’t like it then you can use this as a raising technique to find out a decent amount of information. If he folds you win .. If he happily grabs those chips, delving into a new tower, then you could potentially be in trouble.
A stack that creates a wall parallel to the player is known as a Hadrian’s Wall. This can take on the form of many different variations. Some will interlock their chips like bricks in a wall, some will stack up their chips in equal height and place them touching side by side. Either way this poker chip stack is defined by a visible strong barrier placed between the action on the table, the player’s hole cards and often the player themselves.
When the player with the Hadrian’s wall arrangement starts to get a little short stacked does he rearrange to make them directly in front of him again and does he get cagey about losing too much of that wall? Similar to the above point, I know that nobody likes to lose chips, however if you have your chips in a big line of defence around you and your cards it can affect your confidence when that wall starts to break down.
As a new hand is dealt, does the clinical organised chip stacker suddenly stop creating stacks with the winnings of the last hand? Has he just been dealt a monster? I’ve had times where less experienced players will tighten up after winning a huge pot and retreat back to only playing premium hands. The adrenaline is still pumping and you just want to get your chips stacked back up and tidy again before committing to a new hand. Therefore your hole cards usually have to be pretty special to interfere with this process. If a player who usually keeps a well organised stack suddenly stops stacking chips and is now concentrating on the game you should be wary. Again this is something that can be easily observed.
Does the winner of the last pot fumble to stack his chips? Possibly they are not used to playing a live game. This speaks for itself but this person may not be very good at hiding “tells” and so other indications of this player’s hand strength could become much easier to spot.
Has this just grabbed a handful of chips without counting them out? You know the kind of bet …. The one where your opponent doesn’t count out a stack in front of him, he just grabs some in a “that’ll do” manner. Either he’s ultra experienced and knows the exact feel of the amount of chips that he required… OR he simply doesn’t care how many chips he bets with as he has a monster which will win the pot anyway!
Have a go at trying to put off your opponent by setting your chips in a simmilar style to theirs. clearly they also have to be an observant poker player but it may be possible to pace and lead them into giving away some free information.
These are just a few of the ways that you can gain a greater understanding of the psychology of your opponents. For any decision that anyone makes whether it be the drinks they chose, the clothes they wear or the way they stack their chips … it all adds up to the bigger picture and the bigger win for you.
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