Reading the Poker Face:  Using Tells and Bluffs to Improve Your Game

Poker is what the big boys like to play when they come to Las Vegas. This classic card game is not easy to master.  Unless you have the skills to back your bills, it is recommended that you steer clear of the poker rooms and try your luck with Blackjack.  But if you are feeling lucky, and have the basic rules of the game down, you can use two of the most often played tricks involved in the game to help you increase your odds.

Poker room at MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Poker room at MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Learning how to read your opponents is the quickest way to pull that stack of chips towards you.  Without knowing it, we all have a body gestures or quirks that give us away when we are feeling good or bad about something.  This is called a tell, and the reason why so many poker players wear their sunglasses at night, well and that cool guy at the club.

Even though most people’s tells are unique, and you need to play against a player for a little while before picking up on them, there are some that are almost universal.  Every player thinks they’re Freud and will try to use reverse psychology to psych you out.  If they have a really good hand, they act uninterested, even though they don’t fold it.  Some may even put on a bigger production than a showgirl and start sighing and shrugging.  Don’t take the bait, just fold your hand, unless of course you’re the one with 4 aces.

Are we expecting rain?

Are we expecting rain? with real experience know these tricks and will take it a step further by purposely giving off false tells.  If you are playing with such a pro, you will have to look for physical signs that he cannot hide, like sudden rapid breathing or shaking hands.  This shows excitement, and that usually means trouble for you.

In order for you to reach the semi pro status, you need to learn how to bluff too.  Bluffing is not something you want to do every hand, but only on the hands where you may get away with it. If that means folding for 16 hands in a row, so be it.  There are only a two times in a game when you should try the bluff.  If you are in a late position and there doesn’t seem to be any strong hands before you or if the cards you have showing could actually represent a strong hand, not a 2 and 3 of different suits.

Is this good?

Is this good?

Never, ever try to bluff with a player who doesn’t fold, or with one who has so much money in the pot that he can’t be forced to.  Also don’t try when there are still a bunch of players left in the game.  A pure bluff is hard to master, and before you do you need to learn how to mask your own tells.  This is when you raise the bet even though there is no way you can win the hand.  As a novice, you should start with the semi-bluff.  This is when you bluff before the flop giving you a chance to back out if nothing good comes out for you.

Paying attention to the other player’s cues and learning how to keep yours in check will go a long way in helping you win some hands at the poker table.  If that is where you really want to be, then go ahead, take a deep breath and dive right in.