Deception

In poker, it is your utmost goal to deceive your opponents. After all, what you're trying to achieve is to push them into making mistakes while you stay clear of these mistakes yourself. According to the fundamental theorem of winning poker, in order to play correctly, you need to play as if you could see your opponent's hole cards. Whenever you make the same decision you would've made if you had been able to see your opponent's hole cards, you gain value. Whenever you act otherwise, you lose value. You'll never be able to actually see your opponents' hole cards, but with enough experience and skill under your belt, you'll be able to read them and put them on the correct range of hands. Achieving this is only one half of your mission though. While you're putting your opponents on correct hand-ranges, you need to keep them from doing the same with you. The only way to do that is through deception.


Do not mix confusion up with deception though. You do not want to confuse your opponents. A confused player has a 50-50 chance of making the call you do not want him to make, while a mislead player stands a much bigger chance to do what you want him/her to do. This is a why a good player never aims to induce confusion, but much rather he's set on offering his opponents reads that make it clear what they have to do.


The bottom line is, you have to be deceitful without ever becoming predictable. This is why you have to show some extreme flexibility in your overall strategy approach. If one approach works well for you, you can't stick to the old saying "don't attempt to mend something that's not broken". You do in fact need to switch gears every now and then even if you're doing great, just to avoid becoming predictable.


Here are some examples of deceptive plays that will help you get the better of your opponents over the long-run.


The free card trick is basically about firing out a bet on the flop to show strength. This will likely cause your opponent to check the turn and thus to offer you the option of checking too which means you'll see the river card cost-free. You need to be in late position to pull this trick off of course, and if your bet gets re-raised on the flop, the while thing will kind of blow up in your face.


In the long-run though, shoving off your strength on the flop will save you money on hands that you do not hit and make you more money on the ones that you do.


The check-raise is a classic move based on deception. As simple as it seems at first glance, the check-raise can be an infinitely complicated maneuver. Here's how a basic check raise works: you have a good hand on the flop and you're in early position. You check, two players behind you check and the third player bets. You then raise his bet. If he checks, he'll give up the initiative in the hand, but more often than not players who attempt to steal the pot (on account of all that parade of weakness in front of them) will realize they've been trapped and will fold.


The check-raise is the ultimate show of strength and it is therefore utilized for posing as well. If one is trying to represent an extra strong hand (while in fact he only holds rags) the check-raise is a great way to let the other players know that he means business and that he wants to get money into the pot.


Each and every type of bluff, the second bullet on the flop, the semi-bluff, floating and the probe bets are all excellent examples of deception in action.


Slow playing is one of the most elementary moves involving deceit, and as such it is the most abused by rookies too, who often end up deceiving themselves because of the free cards they grant their opponents.



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