Poker psychology

Master the challenging psychological aspects of poker.

The Mind’s Way of Poker

Poker is the one game that can sometimes be referred to as a sport. It involves the brain and psychological decisions that make the player feel good or bad about a play, decision, win, or loss. Knowing how to play your opponent’s mind can simply confuse them and cause them to play reckless or tightly as they cannot concentrate completely on their game. With all of this to consider, below is a great description on how to trick your opponent’s way of thinking, and to not be caught yourself.

How everything works

As you may know, we all feel the need to be ahead, have good morale, feel like you are very important, and enjoy yourself. This is why we can’t leave the poker table when we lose. It is because we feel the need to be ahead and to win while having a high morale rather than losing, evolving a low morale and feeling depressed over your losses. Some of you don’t want to admit it because you are embarrassed that you can’t control your mind.

Since the mind also develops a craving for you to become a winner at any event and to make yourself feel great, it overwhelms your subconscious mind into feeling that you need to win whenever you take a big loss. It is pathetic that we can’t force ourselves to leave, but it is how God made us. Your opponents mind is just about identical to yours, with exceptions of course. Whatever you tend to hate to see, your opponent will most likely feel the same way.

Focusing is what we tend to over exaggerate whenever we enter into a game. Whenever you only focus on trying to advance, we tend to play tighter as to force your mind to think you can’t lose and make yourself vulnerable. Bad beats happen time to time and normally when they do occur, we try to play error free or extremely reckless to try to get lucky and win back some of our losses. This is why poker is challenging and can involve a large amount of logic.

Logic and poker

Applying your logic to any game that involves skill will definitely give you an edge when you play.

Good players balance the pros and cons in every pot to see if risking that much money will bring a great reward, aka pot odds. Whenever you get dealt your cards, always apply your logic by seeing how many outs, or cards that can make yourself a winner, and consider if you believe you have enough cards. Being on the button, small blind, or big blind are huge advantages for any hand.

Judging by how fast or slow your opponents fold can tell a brief description on what they were holding. If you are holding suited connectors and everyone is folding quickly, you can simply assume they had low cards. In this type of situation, it would be extremely wise, and smart to lay it down though your mind may sense opportunity with 87s. Seeing on how everyone folded quickly, the odds are in favour for hands that are strong and the flop will most likely show no help to your suited connectors.

Watching your opponents bet is helpful when you are trying to figure out their hands. When you are trying to determine your opponent’s hand, you have to consider the following: what they did preflop; how fast they reacted; what they did on the flop turn and river; did they act? or did they tell? What position in the tournament or table did they move all in on. With that in mind, you can pursue your quest in figuring out their hands.

When trying to read their hands, your mind will most likely go into confusion by either considering what they hold, how they played, or their tells. We can’t stop the brain from getting off track but it is next to impossible to consider all of the facts at the same time. Like most of us, we tend to forget to analyze all the details and leave something important out.

One thing that your opponent will most likely do is try to act like they have crap when they want a call and strong when they don’t. If they have a strong or weak hand, you can sense when they are weak by knowing how they think and by knowing if they are confused in their play or not. Applying your logic in any game should definitely improve your game.

How to avoid being read

Whenever you are pulling a bluff or trying to win a huge pot, it is a mental need to express if we are confident in our hands, or scared that we are even in the hand. This is natural, but we also try to avoid it by acting to get the rewards of the pot. Whenever you have a really good hand and you wish to conceal your hand, it is easier to hide your hand if you ‘go to a happy place’ whenever you are concealing your tell.

You may smile and act like you are daydreaming, but if you do it for good and bad hands, it would be very hard for them to figure you out. Another way to keep you from people figuring you out is to bet the same speed and very close to the same time and the same way. This will significantly confuse your opponent as they normally can tell your hand depending on how you bet and the speed of your bet.

How to calm the effects of tilt

Tilt is the word that is used whenever a player is playing recklessly because something has not been going their way. Whenever you do experience something is going just plain wrong for you, your mind begins to race and sense a powerful need to win again. If you do ever experience yourself tilting in a game, it is very wise to sit out and wait until your heartbeat slows down.

Also, go to a happy place so you can relax a lot. While in your happy place slowly think about your missteps, but don’t leave your happy place. This soothes the mind and it can make you think, and calm down better. This will eliminate the major effects of tilt, and it should get you back in the game whenever you feel your heartbeat is at a normal rate.

Typically thrown out hands by instinct

As we try to sense opportunity within our hands, we also sense weakness in our own hands. These are the most commonly hands that our minds consider worthless: 23 to 2Q, 35 to 3Q, 46 to 4Q, 57 to 5J, and 68 to J6. Those are what our minds consider to have no opportunity in winning.

You may wonder about 34, 45, and 56. These sometimes flash in our mind that you will catch a straight. The thing is you have a very little chance to get one with these, but our minds continue to think so. Whenever we receive great cards, we think about how we can win while we play, rather than how we could lose. You can use the information here to get an idea of what was folded by previous players which can lead you to know how many outs you will have.

Aggression puts your opponents in a void

Think of Gus Hansen. Whenever he is pushing the limits by making really big bets consistently, you can’t pick up on his betting pattern. Playing aggressive makes you opponents feel scared and sometimes happy as they can sense opportunity in winning a big pot off you. This can confuse your opponents as they either think, “That’s a huge bet! I can’t call that” or “I can make some money off this guy”.

Whichever one happens to appeal in their mind, they will be confused at the moment concentrating on what you did rather than what they should be doing. This puts you at an advantage, but the only downside of being aggressive is when you get called. Whenever this happens, be careful. Do not be overly aggressive so that you easily tilt after a big loss such as that will surely make you fell bad about the play and eager to make your losses back.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, poker involves much more than seeing your cards and placing bets out on the table. It is a game which can be mentally confusing and involves skill just as much as luck. Believe or not, you can even laugh on how you can’t concentrate on every aspect of a single hand of poker.

Even the pros have to take a decent amount of time to consider all of the facts into consideration before making their decision. Though it is only a game, for real money or play money, we can’t help but to feel mad at ourselves for losing.

The mind itself cannot be tamed, which can make concentrating much more difficult than it may appear. This is very intriguing if you are trying to understand the psychological aspects of poker along with trying to become a better player along the way. If you have read all of this, you will be more alert on the tables in your overall play, and you can avoid tilt.

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