The Psychology of Poker

In some ways, being a magician and being a poker player use similar skills. Magicians use skills honed by thousands of hours of practice. They use what is called misdirection, and they certainly use a certain amount of psychology in creating a memorable performance. The same can be said about professional or semi-professional poker players. These men and women hone their craft with thousands of hours of play against opponents. They use a certain amount of misdirection in their play, and they most certainly use psychology.

The psychology of poker basically involves creating mystery, misdirection (there’s that word again) and hesitation. Sitting around a table with your opponents can be a challenge. You have to keep your poker face, try to read everybody else’s poker face, and not give away your true intentions when you take a card, raise and call. After a few hands you start to notice the physical aspects of your poker opponents. The hesitation when it comes time to bet, an air of resignation when some player takes three cards, the confident betting of someone with an excellent poker hand, all sorts of little nuances.

In online poker, the entire game is changed because you can’t read the other players’ body language and quirks. An internet casino poker game is often reduced to the game’s bare essence, but you can still take advantage of some psychological tricks to get ahead. In the online casino, some do make their game play as consistent as possible to fool other players when there’s a big hand at stake. Others go the opposite way and try to confuse other online poker players with plenty of bluffing and strategic folding.

Players such as Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese and Barry Greenstein are considered to be among the best poker players of all time. These players have perfected their game techniques and worked out how to use poker psychology to give themselves an edge over their opponents. Of course, none of this applies if you are simply playing against a computer program. In that case, the best you can do is to figure the odds and find a good strategy. In the case of online poker with other humans, it is still possible to use psychology. You just have to learn how to read the game. Internet casinos present a whole new series of challenges to the seasoned poker player, but over time you can learn how to adapt and win. And always remember, the odds are always on the side of the House!!!

What is your psychology on winning in online poker ?


I pretty much agree with your description and this is what makes the game so fascinating. The interactive psychology aspect makes the game so much fun especially when something may be wrong with you. I disagree with the,

It is generally correct but you just have to create your own body language and quirks which the other players don’t realize that it’s intentional on your part.

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In online poker it is true that you cannot see your opponents, however you can make inferences as follows:

  1. What does the size of your opponent’s bet mean? What has it meant before? For example some players will make small bets from early position on each street when they have a small pocket pair and want to see another card.

  2. What does the timing of their bet mean? Usually if there is hesitation it means that they are counting the outs on a draw. Players with top pair usually bet quickly.

  3. What does a bet mean? Is a player trying to take down the pot pre-flop, or on the flop, or are they trying to build the pot because they have a monster?

  4. Does a pre-flop shove indicate weakness or strength? What have you seen from this player before? For example, will they always shove Ace Small unsuited if they are less than 10 BB?


Yes ! These are all the things I look for also on online Poker .

It has been pointed out that this is not an original post written by Craig but is quoted from an internet article.
This is the original reference for those interested:

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The short version I call it POPS


This is my Simple System for a Complicated Game

Made up by a Complicated Simple Man

Best of Luck at the Tables … The Goat :goat: :sunglasses:


Keep my temper when my Aces get beat 80% of the time:)


Yes Bill , that’s a huge psychological tell. Stay cool even though it’s hard here with the “ curse “ of the Aces”.


I only lost with them twice last night:)


Yikes, Bill. :frowning_face:


Well that’s a real improvement Bill :joy:

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Bluffaloking, hard to get a read on some ppl. who tell me they are drunk n play like it lol:)

Rule # 3 . Never play poker with someone under the influence of alcohol :tumbler_glass: .

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As a rule, does it apply in a fun online game? There’s such a variety of players, from those who are there for the instant gratification, to those who play the ‘long’ game. Body language is nil, and you can take clues from past play, which seems to be the one truly effective thing in the ‘psychology toolkit’, if you are looking at it that way.

Emo players are easy to spot, and I find it’s best to relax and not take things too seriously. If someone is determined to outbet everyone, g’head and have at it! That’s why I don’t play high stakes. :slight_smile:

In the online casino, some do make their game play as consistent as possible to fool other players when there’s a big hand at stake. Others go the opposite way and try to confuse other online poker players with plenty of bluffing and strategic folding.

Of course Replay Poker is just for fun, but it is enjoyable to experiment with psychological tactics that one might want to use in a real for money game.

I was playing the other day on a 20,000/40,000 table where you start with a stack of 4 million chips. I had built my stack up to about 9 million chips and was the largest stack on the table.

I played a hand blind against blind as BB with a hand which was complete junk and by the river the pot was quite large and I had absolutely nothing. Just Jack high. The villain put in a half pot value bet, which I thought represented top pair, but potentially there was a straight on the board formed at the river if you held any 5 7. I raised with a pot-sized bet, and after thinking for the maximum time (3 seconds or whatever it is), my opponent folded. So I showed my cards, so that he (and the rest of the table) could see that he had been Bluffaloed out of a large pot.

(Of course if you are the largest stack at the table, you can afford to make bluffs and get called, but even so if you have played for a long time to build up a big stack, you don’t just want to throw away chips in large pots, and if you make too many bluffs, opponents will soon be on to you.)

That is just the beginning of the story.

A few hands later an almost identical hand occurred in which I held 4 7 and flopped a straight. On this occasion I was up against an extremely aggressive player. He made a large bet on the river. There was no potential boat or flush on the board, so I raised with a pot-sized bet hoping he would call. Generally in ring games on RP the original raiser would fold if he could see that he was potentially beaten by a straight. But in this case having seen me make an identical move very recently and shown a bluff, the villain reraised all in, and I stacked him for two and a half million chips.

This was extremely satisfying! And that is the fun of RP. You can have all the fun of playing super high roller poker without risking any money!

Incidentally it is my observation that playing ring games on RP, you tend to reach a kind of stalemate in which you can play for hours and have a stack about the same size as where you started. However if you step down to a lower level of play to find some more vulnerable opponents, it is difficult to make enough chips to make it worthwhile. Therefore the only way you can make the big money by stacking opponents is by playing with highly unexpected hands or by slow playing large pairs until you make a boat.

I was actually stacked by an opponent the other day who called a raise from the BB with 8 5 unsuited. I had pocket 5’s and made a boat on the river. My opponent had flopped trip 8’s, but, slow played it down to the river, showing no interest in taking the pot and then putting in what look to me like a huge bluff on the river when the five fell giving me a boat and him a cruise liner. Only it wasn’t a bluff,and it cost me 5 million chips!

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Hence the psychology of poker.