One could argue that the average players in a poker game can be broken up into three skill groups – Chumps, Snakes, and Sharks. You’re already making money off the Chumps, and a true Shark is hard to handle, so a natural question is – how does one take advantage of mid-tier poker Snakes?
Lets look at two things we know about Snakes –
1. Snakes think they can’t be fooled. Their ego controls most of their decisions and tells them that they are better than just about everyone else at the table. They play poker to feed their egos and will ignore losses just as readily as a Chump.
2. While Chumps don’t pay any attention to the game, Snakes do. They love to judge other players and are constantly watching them for tells or slips.
Looking at these points, it becomes obvious that the way to beat these mid-range poker players is to use their ‘skills’ against them. This can be accomplished easily by employing three tells that they are sure to be looking for. Use tells at decisive moments, when you know the Snakes are watching for maximum profit. Oh, and the stupider they think you are, the better these will work.
Should I or Shouldn’t I?
One of the most looked for signs of weakness in a poker player is indecision. Specifically – picking up a small amount of chips to bet, then setting them down and checking instead. To sell it further, don’t even lift the chips all of the way up. Tilt the chips slightly in your hand as if they are scared to leave the comfort of your stack, then let them rest back on top of the pile and use your other hand to check.
This will often attract large over-bets by your now confident opponents. When used late in a hand, such as on the river, the over-bet will often be exceptionally large (to cover the pot odds), meaning maximum profit for your winning hand. You may even be able to get a Snake to commit further by re-raising him. Raise timidly and they may call instinctively on blood thirst.
Mid-level poker players are looking for tells of strength as well as weakness. This is one of the most confident tells in the game – simply lean back, relaxed, and take your arms off the table.
Best used after a new card has been reviled, and especially so when the new card completes a straight, flush, or set, this tell will scare all but the best hands out of the pot. Use against a mid-level player that has bet into the pot, but has not completely committed. The best part is, when they fold, you don’t have to reveal your bluff. Rinse and repeat.
A player who bets but isn’t paying attention to the hand is the second most common sign of confidence. Used in similar situations to The Lean, this tell serves a duel purpose. It is a sign of confidence. If not taken as a sign of confidence, it is taken as a sign of stupidity. If you’ve played your part well, the Snake is convinced that you are not a dangerous player. No dangerous poker would be more interested in the latest news headline than the river card. This reinforces his misconception that your hand has already been made.
If you are reasonably sure that your confidence will get them to fold (either because of their weak hand or their confidence in their ability to read your ‘tells’), then it is not even necessary to sneak in glances at the board or your opponents. The more you ignore the game, the more convincing this tell becomes.
Play the Chumps, misdirect the Snakes, and avoid the Sharks for unlimited poker profit!