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Listen to Your Opponents at the Poker Table

If you pay attention to what your opponents say and how they play, then you’ll be able to make more effective reads, lay better exploits, and win more chips. Poker is just as much a game of psychology as it is about math and cards. That’s why you need to keep your ears open.

You might just be surprised how many people will tell you how to beat them if you listen closely. This can be as subtle as harder breathing when they’re excited and get a good hand, or it can be as blatant as them telling a story about how they hate going all-in with aces because they took a bad beat once—when they go in against you, then you cant bet they don’t have aces.

The Majority of Players are Honest

Poker might be a game known for its bluffing, but most of the casual talk you hear at the poker table is completely honest. Sure, there might be that one guy who dresses up, speaks in a funny accent, and pretends to be someone he’s not as part of his “shtick”, but they’re the exception and not the rule. Especially when they’re not playing a hand, most people stay away from Hollywooding.

Around 99% of what people say at the poker table is honest. So if they tell you that they really need to min-cash a tournament because their entire bankroll is on the table, it’s probably not a lie. You can then adjust by folding as an exploit when they bet and by adding more pressure to situations where they aren’t going to be willing to go all-in.

Are People Adjusting Against You?

Another point that you need to listen to is where people are starting to adjust their strategy because of you. Let’s say you’ve been playing a lot of pots, getting aggressive, and making big bets. Someone might start looking at you more or even peering dirty looks in your direction. They might then get out of line against you because they want to “show you who’s boss.”

This can also manifest in how people adjust their ranges. If you’re playing really loose, then your opponents might tighten up and try to beat you with better cards. The best thing you can do in this situation is realize what’s happening, tighten up, and turn their expectations against them.


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