Have you ever heard of the term "playing your cards face up"

This means that your play is so predictable that your opponent doesn't need to know what your hand is because you are telling them.


Method 1 - The physical tell

This works typically only in live poker but there are physical give aways you will provide that tell your opponents what you have.

An example would be everytime you have a strong hand you tap your pass chips from hand to hand

Or when you had a big hand but fold, you are so precious about your hand that you make extra efforts that it gets to the muck without being seen.

Good players will pickup on solid tells and be able to predict your hands because of them

It is hard to avoid doing this unless you know you are doing it, the best advice is to be relaxed because you are less likely to fidget or give away something if you are playing hyped-up.


Method 2 - The betting amount tell

This is more obvious in online poker. If you bet differently depending on if your hand is strong or weak, your opponents will know. This will typically mean that you bet 2 x when your hand is OK but 4 x when you have a monster. Also, you will over-bet trying to bloat the pot early.

Avoid doing this completely.

For me I just make EVERY bet a standard bet depending on the level.

In a tournament

3.1x for early levels

2.6x once we hit 25/50 levels

2.1x once we hit antes


I will bet AA UTG the same as AA from the button and always as the standard above.

Also, when I hit my hand on the flop, I will want to build value and will avoid over-betting the pot unless I am confident my opponent will call since value is very important and I don't want any of my opponents chips left behind.


If I am against an opponent and he bets the pot on the flop, it tells me that he has little idea how to build value, has hit a hand and wants to get paid. I love this opponent because he is showing me what he has and all i need to know is, can i beat it. If i can, ill take his money quickly, if not i can fold and wait until he comes again.

The shovers make me smile. They bet big, they hit a piece of it and they shove. They get called often enough that they win often, in fact they can often to be chip leader... but don't worry they will move them over to you soon enough!


Method 3 - The betting frequency tell

This one takes a different level of thinking.


How you bet will be a typical consistent line no doubt. You raise certain hands, fold others, c-bet certain hands and c-bet a certain number of times.

This creates a pattern. A common pattern you will have noticed from some is when you button steal, they call and immediately fold when you c-bet. It will happen 60% of the time because they are playing fit/fold and will only stay in the hand if they are ahead.

So not only do you get the blinds but you get an additional BB from the BB caller 2 of 3 times. And thats if he calls EVERY time, sometimes he folds.

Easy money right?


Another common one is if you are nitty and always c-bet but will fold the turn if you get called on the flop - this is predictable. So predictable that you won't realize your smarter opponents are betting your turn check with rags knowing that they can push you off any hand.

In your eyes you are +EV because you get enough folds that a C-bet is profitable 2 of 3 times. Against certain opponents this turns into a lot poorer ratio and will be so poor that you just can't C-bet those opponents at all, further playing into their hands.


The solution is not to play less c-betting but to be aggresive more. If you feel that a certain opponent ALWAYS seems to have a hand when you C-bet, chances are he doesn't and why not raise him? If he has a hand he might come over the top of you, if he does just fold.. but either way your opponent knows that you aren't always folding to action and might avoid floating you as frequently.


Most poker players are looking for the easy mark. They want an opponent that will fold and be passive, they will avoid other pros who know how they play and will avoid players who have a history of playing back at them. I know I do, I have notes for players that say "will protect their c-bets" or "3-bet/4-bet often" and I can avoid action with them when possible.


Method 4 - The VPIP frequency and aggression

VPIP is a fancy name for saying, you enter the pot when not in the BB a certain percentage of times. The higher this number is, the more likely you are entering pots with a wide range and it is very easy to have a better hand than them, you can outkick them very well.

VPIP also means that they will often call a lot and rarely fold, especially to bluffs. These are the fish that we want but we need to play smart against them.

Our goal is to play small pots against them with pairs and big pots when we have a monster.

If you also can take note of the aggression, a player that limps in a lot will have poor aggression and is more likely to fold to strong action or call to the river and fold.

It is hard to see these numbers without a HUD unless your maths and memory is VERY GOOD!


Also, if you being too nitty, this will show too. If i see you played 10% of hands over 200 hands, you shove with a hand when bet at, I know you have QQ-AA or AK, its rare you don't.

Can you see how this is making our opponent look VERY predictable?


So all we need to do is find that spot where we can dominate them and use their predictability against them.


There isn't much you can do to avoid these. You can make the occasional play that mixes up your table image and adjust to your opponents (going from nit to lag as they change) but unless you want to go broke you are probably playing a specific line and won't stray too much.

Just be mindful that you will have at least a couple of opponents (if not a majority) tracking your stats and for the ones you face regularly, assume that if you are tracking them - they will be tracking you. Use that if you can and if they know you play nitty, raise them with nothing and watch them fold!


Method 5 - Table behaviour

Most players, especially online will be stoic, never talk, never get involved in anything unrelated to the grind of hand to hand to hand play.

It is the players that talk too much that give away their commitment to the game. They are most likely casual players who are doing it for pure fun rather than a grind.

The players that tell you what they had, noteably when they would have hit well. The board comes A-6-6 and after it is done they say "I had A6" - so what? You folded so what you had is pointless and mentioning it only serves to make us think that a) you are fish for talking about it b) you have a mentality based on results rather than correct play.

Then you get the ones that show cards. I really think that these people watch too many episodes of WSOP on ESPN. Showing in live games can help some players with their image but online it is 100% pointless.

If you had the best hand and I bluff you off it, showing me (even just one card) tells me that I can get you to fold anything but an absolute monster.

If you had the worst hand and you bluff me off my hand, showing me just tells that you bluff and whilst you think that this sets up a play in the future, all it means is that "you think" that, not that I think that and its not going to enduce me to bluffing you, its just going to make you think I will when I have a hand.

I am not going to change the way I play because an opponent showed me a card because I am not results orientated. If a player forces me off my hand, I didn't feel strong enough to continue or fight back, if he shows me a bluff then great for him but if that exact scenario comes up again, I am not going to let the show make me play it any differently.

Lastly, if you had the best hand and you force me of my hand and show, thats bad too. You are bragging that "well, i did have it", again perhaps thats you trying to setup a play or telling me that you always have it and perhaps you don't want me to pay you any more?? (lol)


I don't show for two reasons.

1) I don't like giving away free information

2) I don't want to change the way by opponents act when they are in a hand with me. If i have a good read on them and they act a certain way, why would i want to start from square one guessing what they will do now i showed the bluff or the best hand?



There are no doubt many more but the overall conclusion is that all of them focus on being predictable. If you play a certain way, your opponents can outplay you.

Like boxing, if you always throw a left, right then two lefts, your opponent will wait until you fire the two lefts and hit you from the other side. The trick is to be unpredictable enough to keep your customers guessing but predictable enough that you can rely on your strategy.

The best bet is to have a plan for every hand that is specific to the cards, position and opponent.