Today, I am starting a mini blog series "One step ahead" in which I will disucuss and explain all the little things I have found in poker that make me a profitable player and give me the much needed edge over my competition. 

 

Psychology of poker

While overlooked by many online players, the psychological aspect of poker is a big part of the game. We all know how to get some basic reads on our opponents. If we see something unusual we take a note for future reference or we simply consult our HUD which offers a wide range of goofy numbers which describe our opponents' tendencies. The purpose of all this is to keep in mind that in poker you are playing the player more than you are playing your own cards. Unlike live players though, we online grinders do not have the option of looking at someone to see how they react, and how they look like. Do they look comfortable or are they tense? If we can observe a behavioral tendency we can exploit it just as well as we can exploit all of the other more obvious tendencies - a villain cbets flop too much but does not follow up with a turn barrel often enough, he/she folds to too many check raises, 3betting frequency is too high etc. The real struggle with online poker is that it is very difficult to get any "behavioral" reads on our opponents so the majority of players just do not bother looking for them. I think this is a mistake. It may be difficult but it is certainly not impossible and there are several ways of obtaining that kind of information

1) Avatar tells

Avatar tells can sometimes be used against readless opponents to get a general idea of how they might play. The important words in the previous sentence are READLESS and SOMETIMES. Do not rely on avatar tells and never make a decision based entirely on your read you got from looking at someon's avatar. It can be very inacurate but it is better than having no information at all. I do not claim to be an expert on peoples' avatars though so I invite you to read Dale's blog. Useful and funny at the same time

2) Facing a tough decision? Use your chat box!

Believe it or not this has been a life saver for me on many occasions. The general truth about people playing an emotional game like poker is that in certain situations they start to feel highly uncomfortable. Well, how comfortable would you feel if you just put all your stack in on a stone cold bluff? So how can we use this knowledge to our advantage? Simply try typing something in a chat box. A villain who does not understand the psychology of the game is very unlikely to give you a false tell so this seems to be a pretty relible source of information. Works best against 1 tablers and fish who play for fun.

Some easy questions to ask and answers to expect:

What do you have? You would be very surprised to know how many times villains told me his exact hole cards when I asked him this question. The natural human behaviour in poker is to try to look like you are telling a lie when you have the goods and not give anything away when you are bluffing or worried you might not have the best hand. A villain who is trying to deceive you often thinks the best strategy is to tell you the truth because in poker everyone expects you to tell lies right? I literally remember only 1 occasion on which a villain told me he had something else than he actually had.

Just an example: yesterday I was playing zoom 6max and opened MP with AKs. I got 3bet by an aggro fish in BB with about 50BB stack. This is a no brainer stack off 99% of the times so I decieded to 4bet small expecting him to shove with whatever junk he 3bet me with. Instead he made a weird 5bet leaving him about 10bb behind. I thought for a while and decided to ask him what he had. He instantly replied with a smiley face (first good indication of a big hand - noone types smiley faces in chat without feeling good about their hand) Then I told him that it does not look like he has AK or QQ and he simply replied with AA allowing me to fold my hand. I am not saying I was 100% sure it was a good laydown but about 90% is more than enough to not put in the rest of my stack with 11.5% equity

*to be continued in part 2