The most profitable kind of poker psychology is the ability to read your opponents. Imagine the edge having this ability would give you and then imagine how much money you could win with it! Or maybe just at a table playing strip poker. Nice!
Bring this knowledge to the poker table and you will win money — it’s as simple as that!
Any mannerism which helps you determine the secrets of an opponent’s hand is called a tell. I’ve spent time at Massachusetts casinos and just walked around for hours watching people at poker tables. Look closely and you’ll see opponents giving away the strength of their hands just by their mannerisms. Until a few years ago, nobody understood tells thoroughly. Experienced players would try to uncover trends in their opponents’ behavior. Maybe they discovered that one opponent would always loosen his tie five minutes before attempting a major bluff. Such discoveries are important, but there’s a much better way to go about reading opponents.
If you wanted to catalog all the possible tells an opponent might exhibit, the list might go on forever. You could sit for a few days and jot down several thousand things that opponents might do under stress. Unfortunately, after all that work, your list would be pitifully incomplete. There are millions of tells you could write down if you could only think of them all.
There is a simple way to read your opponents. You must learn the motives behind their actions. Then, even when you encounter a tell you’ve never seen before, you’ll have a good idea of what it means. When you’re finished with this book, you won’t have to memorize all the actions of each opponent. Instead, you’ll be able to fit their mannerisms into universal categories of tells. You’ll often know exactly what they hold and, better still, you’ll know why they’re acting as they are.
You’ll get deep inside their minds. And sometimes you’ll be positive what cards an opponent holds — just as if he’d turned his hand face up on the table! When you can do that, your profits will soar. In my opinion, a conscientious winner will at least triple his profits once he masters the science of tells.
It’s important that you comprehend the reason why many tells happen. Most tells occur because players are trying to conceal the true strength of their hands. The most likely way they attempt to do this is to act in a manner that will convey the opposite of what they’re holding. If a hand is weak, they’ll try to convince you it’s strong. If a hand is strong, they’ll try to convince you it’s weak.
In this sense, your opponents are actors.