Psychology in Holdem

The meaning of psychology, in the poker terms is very straightforward. It means getting into your rivals' heads, evaluating how they think, figuring out what they think you think and even ascertaining what they think you think they think. In other words, the psychology of poker is an extension of reading rivals' hands and also an extension of using deception in the way you play your own hand.

For example you have nothing and bluff at the flop that contains a pair. You are raised by a strong rival who knows you would bluff at this flop. As you know that he knows you would bluff at his flop, his raise does not mean that he has a good hand. As a result, because your rival might also be bluffing the correct play may be for you to re-raise and then to bet again on the turn if necessary.

It take us to the another point. The above play goes well because you are against a strong player who is quite sensible. A weak player does not have the same perception. As you cannot put a weak player on a hand, you even cannot put him on either thinking. When a pair flops, a weak player might raise (after you bet) with a small pair in his hand, expecting to get a free card that would allow him to draw out on his rival who "obviously" has trips.

A complicated Texas hold'em game can go further above this third level. Suppose two suited cards flop and there is a bet from an early position. A strong player who thinks his rival is on a flush draw (as this player likes to check-raise a lot when he has a legitimate hand), may now raise with bottom pair and then bet on fourth street. His rivals may understand this and try to check-raise with a flush-draw on the turn. The initial raiser will know this possibility and call his rivals down. When a hand is finished, assuming that the flush card does not come, his calls will look excellent to some rivals, if he actually is against a flush draw. However, if it turns out that the first bettor really has a hand the calls will appear to be a "sucker play."

At the standard level of Texas hold'em, the "skill" to outwit your rival sometimes can extend too many levels where your judgment of making decision may not succeed. Conversely, in a normal play against good players, you should usually think at least up to the third level. The first thing to think about is what your rival will have. The second thing would be about what your rival think you have. And third, to think about what your rival thinks you think he has. When you are playing against weak players who may not bother to think about what you have and who really don't think about what you think they have, does it not necessarily pay in going through such thoughtful procedures. Against all others, it is important to a successful play as deception is the bigger aspect of the game.

There are many other crucial ideas that play a very significant role in the psychology of poker. To start with, when a rival bets in a situation where he is sure that you will call, he is certainly not bluffing. For example, you bet when all the cards are out and a player raises you. You can rarely see the player raising on the end as a bluff. Likewise, if you raise when all the cards are out you should normally fold, unless your hand can beat some other legitimate hands with which he might be raising. (But better be careful with those players who know you are proficient of these folds.)

On the other hand, it is not necessarily correct to fold on fourth street. Aggressive players will raise on these streets if they have an average hand which might later has some chance to become a best hand. For example, there is medium pair which has picked up a flush draw. Those of you who have folded when raised in such cases are giving up much equity in the pot. This is particularly true at the higher limits where the games are generally tougher.

The outcome to this rule which we are been discussing is that if your rival bets when there is a good chance that you will fold, he may be bluffing definitely. In other words, if the rival bets in such situation where he believes he might be able to get away with a bluff, you have to consider his calling, even with an average hand.
An example is when no one bets on the flop and small card hits on the turn. If one of your rivals bets now, and he is a kind of player who picks up the pot with nothing, it would be correct for him to call (or raise) with a weak hand.

When deciding whether to bet, it is equally essential to determine what your rival think you have. If your rival doubts a strong hand, you should bluff a lot. However, you should not bet a decent hand for value in this situation.

The similar example is when you re-raise before the flop with

Three rags come on the flop and the last card is a king. If you have been betting all the way it would be difficult for anyone to call on the end with only a small pair.

However, if you know your rival doubts that you are weak, you should not try to bluff, as you will get trapped. But you should bet with your hands for value.

Changing in your play and also making an "incorrect" play intentionally are also a part of the psychology of hold'em game because you are trying to change the thinking your rival for future hands. For instance, you can make it three bets before the flop with a hand like:

Suppose that your rival see your hand in a showdown, they should be ready to steal against you in a similar situation when rags flop. Also, you are taking the advantage of the impression you created to get paid off later, when you have a legitimate re-raising hand.

The example to this kind of play is to throw in an extra raise early in a hand with cards that do not really guarantee it to give the illusion of action. For example, you rarely raise the pot with a hand like:

This play cost only a proportion of bet in mathematical expectation but may gain you a huge amount of money in future on the successive hands. But this play should be made in loose games where you are against players who play too many hands and go too far away with their hands because you have lot of action.

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