ACTING LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO CALL TO INDUCE A TELL

After an opponent has bet, you might induce a post-bet tell by acting as if you’re going to call.

This is similar to the above maneuver, except you are performing it after an opponent has bet, not before he has bet. You are using the act of a potential call to induce a tell from an opponent. For example, after your opponent bets, you act as if you’re going to call. You reach for your chips and start to stack them out. This may cause your opponent to stop breathing for a few seconds. Or he may stop riffling his chips for a few moments. Or his smile may freeze on his face. Or some other clue may be given off by him.

Alternatively, you might see your opponent engage in relaxed behavior, like staring at you as you get your chips ready, or start talking to you, or the like. If you already have a good read on your opponent, this might tell you he is unconcerned about a potential call.

STALLING BEFORE PUTTING IN BET TO GET INFO

By stalling before putting in a bet or a raise amount in a no-limit game, you can get indications of what the people behind you intend to do.

In no-limit Hold’em, you can announce “bet” or “raise” before you put the amount of your bet or raise into the pot. This rule can be taken advantage of by announcing “bet” or “raise” and then waiting a few seconds to observe the out-of-turn actions by players behind you. Seeing people readying to fold or actually folding can of course be useful for sizing your bet. Seeing a player behind you who gives every indication he’s ready to play will also be useful information.

Similarly, you can get reactions just by making it look like you’re going to bet or raise, without committing to a raise. You may start to cut out chips for a bet and get a read on the people behind you.

If you start to place a bet and you see the person behind you start to call, you can make the size of your bet smaller if you wish. If you start to put out a bet and see the person behind you obviously folding, you can feel safe about making your bet. (Be aware that some no-limit games will not allow you to cut out chips after you cross a betting line, so that any chips that cross the line will be counted as a bet. In such a game, this maneuver will not work.)

These type of maneuvers are probably the most immoral I’ve discussed in this book. For the record, I’ve never done either of these myself, but I have no problem with anyone who does. If you wait until it’s your turn to act, and give no information away about your intended action, you will never be affected by people who do this kind of thing.

SHOWING SOMEONE YOUR HAND TO GATHER INFO

Showing or telling someone your hand can be used as a last-ditch effort to get a read on someone.

If you’re reading someone well and he makes a substantial bet, you might consider telling that person your hand, or even showing him your hand, in order to get a reaction from him.

Here’s an example. You’re in a no-limit Hold’em cash game. You’ve got 9s Ts in the big blind. A loose, spazzy player in middle position raises it up and you call. You’re both not very deep. The flop comes 9c Th Js giving you a vulnerable two pair. You decide to check to him. He bets the size of the pot. From his demeanor you decide he’s got a good hand, with most of his range being behind your hand, and you want to try to get the money in now. You make a pot-sized raise and the player goes all- in for a pretty substantial over-bet.

This is a situation where you could easily be either way ahead or way behind. He could quite easily be doing this with AA, KK, or QQ. He knows you’re an aggressive player and he’s the type of player who would want to shut you out of the pot if he figures his overpair is good.

Just as easily he has any set, or QK for the straight, or maybe TJ for a better two pair. It’s possible he’d play all of these hands the same way.

You’ve already played a good amount with this opponent and are reading him well. Right now he looks very confident; he is looking you in the eyes and his posture is relaxed; he doesn’t seem worried. But his confidence doesn’t really mean anything now, because he’s going to feel confident with any hand in his range at this point, whether he’s actually ahead or behind. (Plus the longer you wait, the more he’s going to believe he’s got the best hand.)

So you decide to throw a little wrench in the works. You turn your cards over, showing your hand, and say, “I’ve got two pair. Man, it’s a tough decision. I don’t think I can fold this.” You look perplexed, shaking your head, and you count out chips for a possible call. (Showing your cards is not usually allowed in tournaments, but is usually allowed in cash games.)

Now you notice a change in his demeanor. He stops looking at you. His hands, which had been shuffling his chips, go still and sit kind of awkwardly on his cards. He gets a kind of tight smile on his face and does a little shrug, as if to say, “What can you do?” All of these signs look like a man who went from being sure he was ahead in the hand to someone who now is dreading a call.

Or, instead, let’s say you showed him your hand and he acted in the following manner: he shook his head, while looking at you with kind of sad eyes, and said, “Oh, man, that’s a tough decision.” Or maybe he says, “Oh, you got two-pair?” while looking at you with raised, surprised eyes. Maybe he adjusts his glasses and double-checks his cards. Maybe he just looks superficially worried and sad. All of these signs individually, or taken in combination, point to a man who is putting on a show of concern, but who is actually relaxed and not really minding a call.

Of course, all of this is dependent on how well you’re reading the guy in the first place. You may not get any information from him. You usually won’t. But the point is: if you’re on the fence about what to do, there’s no downside to trying to get some extra information.

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