This journal entry will be a little different because it’s going to teach you some poker moves and tactics that very few players know about. The information presented here is what I refer to as deep poker strategy. But it’s not technical at all. This is more about the psychological side of the game and reading your opponents.
You can apply these poker moves and tactics in cash games or poker tournaments. This is also an article you will want to save so you can read it over and over again. What you’re about to read is similar to Poker Notes, a book I wrote a few years ago. The difference is that you’re reading some of the secrets for free.
Poker Moves: Watch Them Look At Their Cards
When the dealer deals the poker hands around the table, don’t pay attention to your cards; pay attention to the other people. You will pick up tons of information. If someone looks at their cards quickly, they’re likely to fold. If they look at their cards quickly and keep them, I can pretty much guarantee that it will just be a call and they won’t raise. That’s because a quick glance at their cards indicates weakness.
This all relates to human nature. When you see someone you’re not attracted to, you either don’t look or you look at them quickly, then look away. If you look at someone you are attracted to, you look at them a little longer. The same can be said for cars, boats, plates of food, etc. It also applies to cards.
Therefore, when someone looks at their hole cards slowly, be prepared for them to raise. If they look at their cards slowly, pause, and then just call, beware of a trap, which might be a limp-raise if they’re in early position. Do not raise in this situation unless you’re holding strength.
Here’s the best tell. When someone looks at one card and then squeezes the second card slowly, it means they’re seeing if the second card matches their ace or king. If they raise, they likely have something like AA, KK, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, or KJ. When they don’t raise, then you know one of their cards is likely an ace or a king with a weak kicker. If they play those cards, it can either be A-rag, KT, or Ax-suited.
Just by watching your opponents, you can narrow down the possibilities of what they’re holding. This will give you a tremendous advantage. But this will only happen when you’re on. I recently fell into a trap where running horrible for days led to me playing fast. When you’re playing fast, your mind is also moving fast, which means you’re not slowing down and processing everything around you.
So, even if you know how to find the answers, it doesn’t guarantee that you will apply this tool. In other words, be aware of the times you’re playing/thinking too fast and make a conscious effort to get back on track so you will slow down and process everything around you.
Poker Moves: Watch Their Eyes On The Flop
The above is only one of many widely unknown poker moves. Whether you’re playing in a cash game or a Texas Hold’em poker tournament, watch your opponent’s eyes when the flop hits the felt. It’s human nature for a person’s eyes to focus on what attracts them (same concept).
Therefore, if they’re holding AK and the flop is A42, their eyes will immediately shift to the ace. They like the way it looks because it matches what they’re holding. If someone whiffs on the flop, it will be a quick glance and a look at you. This is when you know it’s time to bet. If their eyes focus on the 4 or the 2 (in the example above), then you know they have a piece but they’re relatively weak. It’s time to apply pressure.
You have to be careful with this move in all poker games. Some people who know this trick will make it obvious that they’re reading someone else’s eyes. Don’t be that person. If you are that person, then this weapon will become a dud within minutes. You have to do it stealthily. It has to seem like you’re not doing it at all. It’s not easy, but do your best to watch your opponent’s eyes without them realizing it. And without anyone else realizing it.
Poker Moves: Watch When They Act Nonchalant
When someone is acting cool and calm while you’re trying to make a decision to call or fold to their raise, they want you to call. For example, if someone just put you all-in when you have top pair, there is a potential flush out there, and they’re leaning back, talking to the person next to them, watching television, or ordering a drink as if nothing is taking place on the table, they’re trying to appear non-threatening.
You should fold. This is one of the more basic poker moves when it comes to reading opponents, but it’s most certainly an important one because it applies usually when there are a lot of chips on the line.
Poker Moves: Watch When They Appear Threatening
This is another one of the more basic poker moves when it comes to reading opponents, but it’s also very important because it can lead to making some big calls. If someone slams their chips on the felt, stares you down, sits upright and forward in their chair, ignores people around them, and genuinely looks uncomfortable (too stiff), it’s likely a bluff.
This is a trickier spot, though. If you’re up against a crafty seasoned pro, they could send a fake tell here. For example, they could have the nuts and slam their chips on the table or stare you down after going all-in, knowing that you think it shows weakness. The solution to this problem is to not apply the read when you’re up against a seasoned pro.
You might be wondering how you know if it’s a seasoned pro or not. Good question, easy answer. Watch how they handle their chips. This is the biggest tell in the game when you’re trying to gauge someone’s experience level. If they fumble with their chips often and/or have to slowly count them out when making change, they don’t have much experience. If they handle their chips with ease or shuffle them around between their fingers, they have plenty of experience. They think they’re one up on you without realizing that they’re giving away a ton of information and allowing you to get one up on them.
Poker Moves: Get Them to Talk
This is one of the dirtier poker moves, but don’t worry, nobody will know it’s dirty because it comes off as genuine. Let’s say you’re playing in a Texas Hold’em poker tournament and someone is running good and has the chip lead at your table. This guy is just steamrolling everyone and it doesn’t seem like it’s possible to stop him. That’s until you come along.
All you need to do is strike up a friendly conversation with him. Ask the following questions: “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Have you played here before?” “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” “Are you staying for the whole series?”
This will lead to a natural conversation. What he won’t realize is that all the focus he had earlier will now shift to the conversation. He won’t even pick up on the fact that he’s distracted. This will likely lead to an error, and if you have ever played poker before, then you know that one small error can lead to a complete unraveling in a short period of time.
I have used this tactic on many occasions. I’m not always the person to collect the former chip leader’s chips, but they will usually go somewhere. In some cases, I am the one to collect those chips because that former chip leader is now titling, he picks up on the fact that I was the one to distract him, and he’s playing too fast against me. Within 30 minutes, he’s gone and I have all those chips, all because I asked him: “Where are you from?”
This is a cruel game, and if you want to win, you need to be subtly cruel at times. The secret is to get away with it while everyone thinks you’re the nicest person in the world.
Poker Moves: Check Dark on a Smashed Flop
This is one of those poker moves that’s more on the fun side. It’s well within the poker rules, but it’s not something you see very often, which is what makes it a great poker strategy. Let’s say you’re holding KJ, you’re heads-up and out of position against another player, and the flop is KKJ.
Sometimes I will check here, and sometimes I will bet out. If I have a long-term game plan of checking dark, I will check. Your opponent will either check behind or bet. It doesn’t matter what he does. If he checks, okay. It doesn’t change our plan. If he bets, call quickly, which looks like a draw (people call quickly on draws because they’re excited to see if their draw hits on the next card). Before the turn comes, make sure you have the dealer’s attention and check dark.
By checking dark in this spot, it conveys a ton of weakness, even though you’re destroying your opponent. A check dark here likely indicates a draw or an attempt to hit a set with a small or middle pair. There is no way he’s going to put you on KJ, a flopped full house. In most cases, your opponent will bet. Continue to string him along by just calling.
The river is the tricky part because you want value, but if you bet, you might scare him away. The best approach here is a long pause followed by a check, which shows the most weakness. This makes it look like you were considering a bluff but decided to let this one go to fight another day. This, in turn, will likely lead to your opponent firing.
The pot has been built a little because of your check-calls, so he might fire about the size of the pot on a bluff. As we both know, that bluff will not get through. Now you have to decide how to make your raise look like a pissing-match-type-bluff. That’s the only way you will get a call. The best way to look weak in this spot is to go all-in. Why? Because you’re not betting for value. It looks like you want your opponent to fold.
Poker Moves: Go For Your Chips to Call
This is one of my favorite poker moves because it’s highly effective. When someone makes a big bet or puts you all-in and you’re not sure if you have the winner or not, take a long pause, then move your hand toward your chips. If their eyes follow your hand to your chips, they want you to call. This indicates that they’re excited about the prospect of those chips moving to their stack. If their eyes go elsewhere, they don’t want you to call.
Poker Moves: Bet Out On a Flopped Set
One of the best poker hands is a flopped set. That’s because a set is the most disguised hand. It’s very difficult for an opponent to read. This is also why most poker players will check a flopped set. They want their set to remain undetected. However, a great player knows that most poker players will check a flopped set.
Therefore, if you want to deceive a great player, you should bet out on a flopped set. I promise you that they will never see it coming. Good players will think you’re trying to protect top pair. They might fold to your bet, which is obviously the risk, but if they have a hand, or if they think they can move you off of top pair, they will hang around. They might even raise you.
If that happens, continue to play the hand as though you have top pair. Don’t be afraid to raise on the turn. He’s watching your betting patterns, and this will throw him off. A raise can look weaker than a call to a great player. Lay the advanced trap, take his chips, be the best remaining player at the table.
Study the poker moves above over and over again so they stick to your mind like glue. Everything written above is within the poker rules, so don’t worry about that. These poker moves can also be applied to a cash game or a poker tournament. However, if you stealthily apply them in a poker tournament, it could lead to a very big score. As an added note, it doesn’t just have to be Texas Hold’em, you can also apply these poker moves to other poker games as well. Good luck, see you at the WSOP!
Poker Moves – FAQ
Can you talk at a poker table?
Yes. You can talk at the poker table. A little conversation is good, but don't be a motor mouth.
What is the chip glance tell?
If someone glances at their chip stack prior to acting, it means they are ready to fire because they like their hand. If you notice this, use caution and lead toward a fold unless you have a monster.
Who should show their cards first in poker?
If someone called you, then you should show your cards first. However, all-ins in a tournament don't matter. Just table your cards immediately.
If I flop a set should I bet or check?
Both! You never want to fall into a predictable betting pattern. If you check one time, bet the next, and check-raise the third time you flop a set, your opponents will never know where you are coming from.