Contact us





Persuading a Wrong Read to Excessive Action

I will explain a hand that will provide you unusually examples of these ideas. It was a nine-handed $40-$80 holdem poker game which had been ordinarily large. A short while earlier Bill had taken a seat in the game. He is a kind of player who is more skilled than most, but he does have one crucial weakness: Though marvelous in his hand reading ability, he often fixes quickly on a specific read, having problem reviewing it in the face of contradictory evidence.

This is costly for him because it often leads him to go too far with aggressive bluffing and semi-bluffing when he thinks he has a good read on a rival's hand. But along with it there was another problem with him. He appeared to have come into the game on tilt. I wasn't sure why, but he had played even more aggressively than normally that he played, to the point of carelessness, from the time he had joined the game.

I was in the big blind. Leaving two seats to my left Bill called before the flop. Ted also called, a player sitting to the immediate left to Bill. He is loose, aggressive, and an average player. An unknown player on the button raised. This player had been raising before the flop with an essentially wide range of hands and betting until he met challenge after the flop. I was holding:

Thinking that I have some chance to knock out Bill or Ted by re-raising. I called and we took the flop four-handed.
The flop came:

and it was excellent for me. Even though I liked this flop, it was not immediately obvious how best to play my hand against these online poker players. With that flop, I can hope a play from someone who had one or two sixes, a king, AA, a flush draw, an in-between pair like 88, or someone who can make it beyond the flop to pick up a pair or a draw on the turn. If anyone did actually have a 66, a king, a flush draw, or AA I would definitely lose him on the flop.

I will just slow-play until the turn but in addition to the two-suited flop, there was a possibility that the player on the button was going to bet anyway. When he did there would be few hands with which Bill or Ted would call (or perhaps raise) but not two bets. Hence, I don't have worry about knocking out anyone who was going to call one bet. I could bet out and hope not to lose everyone. Or perhaps I might have been raised.

As I normally play against people who are familiar with me, I like them to mix it up in places like this. I want my rivals to be indecisive or to misread my hands on a paired flop. This is what it took me to the third option. Given Bill's tendency for very aggressive action based on complicated, logical, but rigid reads, I suspected I might have a chance to persuade excessive action from him. It required that I convinced him that I did not have the trips.

Then of course it can turn out that any action would come from one of the other two players but, hoping to carry out my plan to draw unwarranted aggression from Bill, I checked. As I thought, it was checked to the pre-flop raiser who bet. Then it came the crucial moment calling pre flop raises. Now, check-raising a player on your right from an early position will often have the effect of knocking out players in between the two of you. You often do it to defend your insignificant hand like high pair in a multi-way pot. I knew Bill knew that. I also knew that he knew I was a player who could lay down a hand less than trips if I thought he had them. Thus I expected that he would read me with having a hand like:


which I wanted to defend and he would try to bluff or semi-bluff me off of it.
I was some support from the player on the button I knew Bill had seen that this was not only a poor player, but who would always bet if everyone checked to him on the flop. I knew this would persuade Bill to think I would be especially likely to try to isolate this player without much of a hand. I also thought that his obvious tilt would add to his willingness to gamble on a bold steal attempt.

He did gamble. When I check-raised Bill three-bet it. Ted all three bets cold, and the button folded. I would now call, perhaps with a plan to check-raise on the turn. Only under extreme case that would have been worth considering. But, while I couldn't be sure of it, I guess that by maintaining my aggressive attitude on the flop, as I were "representing" rather than actually holding the trips, I could get even more action out of Bill. It would work as ling as he held clearly to his read. As I thought he would, I restricted it at four bets. He and Ted called. The turn was the 9s. I bet right out, and Bill raised again. Ted called the two bets cold calls in poker . I knew Ted would will not slow-play a full house at this level in the hand. Additionally, I knew him well, and saw in his behavior indicators to represent that he was just calling all bets, trying to make his hand. I put him on a flush draw.

With his turn raise, Bill had pushed his hand tough. Paradoxically, though it was exactly what I had wanted him to do, he had now reveal so much aggression that I had to consider whether he might actually have a hand which beat me like


I knew he would have slow-played a pair of sixes on the flop. The K9 was possible, but I believed that his misreading my hand combined with his emotional state could as easily explain for his action. I assumed that his actions would have been the same with either the case the king alone or a flush draw. That made one of those hands far more likely than the K9. I was particularly certain I had been able to induce him to semi-bluff twice in a hopeless attempt to make me lay down my "weak" hand. I thus made it three bets. Both players called, fairly confirming my read on Bill. Had he had me beaten, he would have raised again right there. The river was the 4. I bet and both players folded confirming busted flush draws for both of them.

Therefore, I had induced Bill to spend about six small bets (an extra $240) more than he had to in playing his hand. I was fortunate enough that Ted had the hand he did, and came along for the ride as well. I cannot be sure how Bill would have reacted had I played my hand differently. My wonderful guess is that misreading the meaning of my check-raise on the flop was the poker basics cause for his aggression.

You're Already Doing It

Better players act as per how they read you. It suggest that you can predict how they will act if you think about how they read you. In addition, you can maneuver about how they read you. You can do this most of the time, perhaps without even knowing it. You do it every time you play deceptively. When you bluff, semi-bluff, or slow-play you are trying to mislead your rivals into reading you incorrectly in the expectation that it will earn you more money. What I did in the hand above was another form of play and deceptive. If you look others you will find them.

Continue Here: Thinking About What They're Thinking