Poker Psychology

Getting Into the Mind of a Poker Player

Mike Caro's Book Of TellsThis is a tricky section to address without waffling on for ages. However, what I would recommend is that you read Mike Caro’s Book Of Tells. This book may be old, but it will show you all the classic tells which will help you start to understand the psychology behind someone’s movements at the poker table and in life.

The Grid System

A simple but effective way to remember how someone plays is to use the grid system of tight-loose and passive-aggressive. For example say 3,7 (fairly tight and quite aggressive).

Now clearly trying to remember all of this with all of the players that you come across will be difficult, however an easy way to remember is to start to gauge the players that you play with a lot.

Feeling Projection

You know how sometimes you can just feel that someone is seriously happy or upset the moment they walk in the room even though they may not be facing you? This is feeling projection.

We do this naturally without even thinking about it, both the picking up and receiving of these messages. You will only be able to receive these or give them out if you have expereinced the same emotion. This shouldn’t be too hard with poker cards!

There is more to it than simply telling yourself that you have rockets down there but that is a good start.

It’s a similar difference between being a great actor and pants actor. It’s all in the eyes – no matter what someone is telling you it is very very hard for them to lie with their eyes (hence why sunglasses are often worn!) – Eyes are described as “a window to the sole” and they truly are.

Tom Cruise can’t act with his eyes, he can do all the other movements which can nearly convince you but if you look into his eyes you still see Tom Cruise. However take a look at Christina Ricci and you will see that her movements are much more subtle but the eyes are full of what she’s trying to convey. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who has just won an oscar and is the same. Look into his eyes and you will see the whole character that he is playing.

Try to believe what you are thinking with your eyes and you will be closer to projecting this.

Give Nothing Away

Now you may have thought that you didn’t get a tip of the day yesterday ! well you did … you got nothing! .. and that’s exactly what you should say if someone in the hand starts chatting to you if you are also in it.

They are trying to extract info and it most probably will just be the simplest movement or by how casual your answer is that gives it away

Whilst playing the hardcore no-limit tables in the MGM Grand there was a guy one player to my left who was clearly a very good player. I was using two £1 coins as a card guard (the quickest thing to hand!) and just after i raised he asked if they were British pounds and if he could take a look. I let him and he then called.

The flop came out and I hit top pair with top kicker. I bet the pot and he then said that he was going to keep this pound – I said ok and he then folded (a good fold).

I wasn’t too concerned about him as he was playing odds and was a person you could bluff, plus I knew that he was trying to get info and I felt that people would respect his decision to fold and do the same (how wrong i was! hehe).

I was very impressed with his talk at the table – he had managed to get a guy on tilt laydown the best hand and lose $150 just by winding him up – but that’s a long story!

A Few More Poker Psychology Tells

Here’s a few more random ones that I’ve seen and to get you thinking on strange happenings that you might have noticed …. Leave your comments below and tell us the things that you’ve noticed at the poker table.

The Last Hand Syndrome

I’ve made that name up now but I love it! … We’ve ALL done it where we are about to leave the table but we say to ourselves… “just one more hand then”… what happens? We loosen up as we want to play and end up being more aggressive than we might otherwise be if it was a hand in the middle of the session. Listen out for someone asking for a chip tray and about to go suddenly getting a little too involved. Clearly they could have a monster but it’s worth noting. Tucking the chair back under the table while seated during their ‘last hand’ is a classic sign they aren’t going anywhere just yet and you should be wary of this player if you see this happen.

The Bragger

Has the Wife/Girlfriend/Friend just popped along and asked how they’re doing? Surely they’re going to want to see an impressive show…. Bring on the showing off! Again you’ll potentially see more aggressive play from him with not necessarily the best hand! Also keep an eye out to see if this player shows his hole cards to his partner. If he does, he’s either got the stone cold nuts or on a complete bluff. Think about it – would YOUR other half be impressed by your 13 outs and implied odds? No, I didn’t think so. Clearly this guy is playing a Hollywood hand. Watch the partners face carefully as she won’t be able to resist reacting to what she sees.

And You..?

What have YOU seen at the tables that you’ve found helpful?

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