Questions To Ask At The Poker Table
by Deke Marston
|While math is at the very heart of
what makes poker work, what makes poker interesting is a combination of discipline and
psychology. These factors are what require players to do more than just bet when they have
good cards and fold when they have nothing. Psychology is at the heart of every poker game
above a certain limit level because enough money is on the line with each decision to make
it possible for players to take risks. These risks can come in the form of bluffing or by
simply over-or-under-representing the hands that a player has. Lets break the
psychological game down a bit and take a look at the three questions that you need to ask
yourself whenever youre involved in a hand.
What does my opponent have?
This is the very first question you need to learn to ask yourself on a regular basis when
you are playing poker, the core of a good poker game. Too many beginning players become
too interested in their own holdings and focus just on the hand they can build. Its
important to observe other players and how they are betting at any given time. For
example, if someone whos consistently folded and only gone to the showdown with a
pair of tens or higher raises before you and youre holding 88 with nothing on the
board? Youll want to consider folding, even if you really like the look of what you
What does my opponent think I have?
This question requires some parallel thought with the first, obviously, because you have
to not only dissect what their holdings are likely to be based on the data youve
gotten from their play but you also have to think about how youre representing your
own hand. If youre a more aggressive, loose player, your opponent is going to place
you on a wider range of cards than they would be able to if you stuck to very tight play.
One way you can make your play more uncertain in the eyes of your opponent is to pick one
riskier hand to see through the turn every three or four orbits. Then make sure that you
dont muck your cards when you fold. Its a simple way to introduce uncertainty
into their game.
"What does my opponent think I think they have?"
This requires some planning and forethought but once you get in the swing, its
easier than youd think. Check-raising is a great way to introduce the idea that you
know more than youre saying (or vice versa). You check when the action gets to you
and when your opponent bets, you raise in response. It basically shows your opponent some
weakness and then comes back with enough strength to say I know what you have, but I
can beat it. It introduces uncertainty and even fear into the game for them when it
comes your turn to play.
Great poker players know how to take these questions and juggle them constantly at the
table. Controlling the flow of information in poker is extremely important and its
the players that understand that who get the most out of their opponents.
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