Deceiving Your Opponents

Success at poker ultimately always comes down to how well you manage information. There are various sorts of information that we are presented with at the poker table. As we know, newer and less skilled poker players tend to focus a lot on their own cards, which does certainly present valuable information, but as one comes to understand the game more, he or she realizes more and more that poker is a game of relatives, where our own hands are only meaningful in respect to what our opponents may have and how they may play these hands.

So along the way, one of our biggest tasks is going to be to try to gain as much information about our opponents as we can. We will look to their overall tendencies and styles of play, and we will then apply this information to the specific situations that arise at the poker table. We then look to put this all together and come up with the best read we can as to what they may have and what they may do.

All the while, our better opponents will be looking to do the same thing to us, and to the degree that they may be doing this, we need to be aware of it and try to manage it. The more effective knowledge they have against us, the more they are able to take advantage of this knowledge. By being aware of what they might be thinking about us, we can then look to act in such a way as to look to throw them off and look to turn the tables more in our favor.

So in other words, what we will be looking to do is to take what they think they know about us and look to throw them a curve. So the first thing we need to be looking at here is what they may think about us, which depends a lot on their level of sophistication.

Some players will simply play their own cards and not even worry about what we may have or how we play. From there, players will have various levels of skill at being perceptive of their opponents. I remember back in the earlier days of 6 max, where most players played loose and crazy, a couple players observing my tighter style compared to them and telling me right out that they thought I was too tight and that they were simply going to fold more against me.

So this was all pretty funny and I immediately started playing more hands to give them the opportunity to do just that. After pushing them around for a bit they realized that this wasn't going to work and they simply loosened up again, whereby I just adjusted again and started exploiting that.

So I bring up this example to show how our table image so to speak has a lot to do with how our opponents see us, although unfortunately they rarely are so foolish as to be so vocal with their thinking. However they still will tend to speak with their play, and we need to pay close attention to that so we can look to counter it.

So in other words, a player will have a certain style, and then will look to adjust it based upon how they feel they can best adjust to how they think you play. So you need to be paying close attention to what they are doing, and the player who does this best will have a significant advantage.

So while we want to do our best to figure out our opponents, we also generally want to make it more difficult for them to figure out what we are doing and what we may have. This often will involve our playing counter to their expectations, for instance in the above example where I played looser than what they were thinking. This is just a simple example of course and depending on how good our competition is, we are often going to have to be a lot more deceptive this, but the process is still the same.

So being deceptive really comes down to determining, as best we can, what our opponents' perception of us is, and then looking to use that against them. Even the worst players tend to have at least some perceptions of us, even if it's that we must be of the same player type as themselves. So in all cases, we watch their play closely, see how they may be playing us, and then look to use our skills at countering this play.

This can get to be a pretty sophisticated task indeed among highly skilled players, but the better you become at looking to counter your opponents effectively, the better player you will become.



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