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Texas Hold’em is a very subtle game!  With only two hidden cards and five community cards, it appears to amateurs and new players to be pretty simple to learn.  By the time an amateur or new player gains some experience playing Texas Hold’em, they realize that the question “How to play Texas Hold’em” is quite complicated.

Here Juicy Stakes Poker will take a somewhat offbeat approach to the conundrum that “How to play Texas Hold’em” presents.

Two Cards Create a Cornucopia of Mystery and Intrigue

The first thing that all Texas Hold’em players must internalize is that the two hole cards every player has contain a massive world of possibility.  While it is true that good Hold’em players fold as many as 70% of all hands before the flop, there is plenty of uncertainty for opponents in the 30% of hands that good players play.

The first rule of play for beginners at Texas Hold’em is to believe in the huge prospect that a player who has not folded has the cards in the hole that he or she needs to make a hand they can bet on as absurd as the hole cards would have to be for the player to have stayed in the hand..

In other words, believe in the cards.

What if a Player Does Bet on a Poor Hand?

This is the eternal bluff.  It means that we have to believe in the cards unless we have a feeling that we shouldn’t believe in the cards!

Bluffing is the bedrock of competitive poker.  It is more important than knowing poker math.  Bluffing is much more of an art form than using poker math to decide on a course of action.

Poker math is straightforward science while bluffing successfully or ferreting out an opponent’s bluff combines expertise in psychology, human behavior, and learned use of inductive reasoning.

How is Bluffing Connected to Psychology?

Bluffing is connected to psychology in conjunction with knowledge of human behavior and the learned use of inductive reasoning.  Let’s tackle psychology first.  When we play poker online at Juicy Stakes Poker, we cannot see our opponents.  We can also not hear them speak.  So, we need a healthy dollop of psychological analysis to figure out what an opponent might be betting on.

There is Palpable Fear in Poker

Many poker players are afraid to call the big blind from early position before the flop.  Here is one of the most common psychological impediments to a player being able to fool opponents as to her or his holding.  In the absence of visually seeing a player’s discomfort at having to make a decision, any hesitation on the part of an opponent before calling, raising, or folding should be seen as a possible psychological tell.

Hesitation is the mind’s way of warning us about possible danger and it must be used creatively at poker.

What is the Human Behavior Connection to Bluffing

We all try to bluff our way out of difficult situations from time to time.  A school kid might say that the dog ate his homework even if the dog was never anywhere near the homework and even if the kid doesn’t have a dog!

On opening day in baseball, there is a sudden increase in grandmother deaths.  Some people, determined to get to the ballpark for opening day no matter what, will reprise a grandmother’s death if they think that they can get away with it!

Many marketing campaigns use bluffs as a way to get people to buy a product.  One common ruse in modern marketing is to ballyhoo the “All Natural” ingredients in a product that is high in oil, sugar, corn syrup and other “unhealthy” ingredients.

Reading the small print is also a way that some companies bluff their way into selling a product that is not nearly as good as advertised.  This is a common practice in much of online marketing.  It is also common for a company to say that if a customer is not satisfied with a product they can return it for a full refund.

We wonder how often that happens!

So, we can conclude that bluffing is hard-wired into the human psyche and human behavior is the way we show our predilection to bluffing.

How is Inductive Reasoning Connected to All of This?

There are two types of logic: Inductive and deductive.  Deductive reasoning comes about from experimentation where we can be certain that a given outcome will result.

There is a Lot of Deductive Reasoning in Poker

In poker, for instance, if the flop has a card that you also have in the hole, you know that no one else can have four of a kind.  You also know that the chances of an opponent having three of a kind of that specific card are much lower than if the card had not come out on the flop.

If you put in a new light bulb and the light does not come on, there are just a few possible reasons for that to have happened:

  1. There may be a network-wide power failure.  If other electrical appliances or lights are working, then this hypothesis is false.
  2. The socket may be faulty.  Put in another new light bulb.  If it, too, fails, this might be the correct conclusion.
  3. The light bulbs might both be faulty.
  4. To check these two hypotheses, put the light bulbs into a socket that you know is working.  If the bulbs light up in a different socket, then it is deductively fair to say that the original socket was faulty.

Most Observations in Poker are Inductively Reasonable

Even if a player calls or raises in early position only with one of the top hands in the hole many times in a row, it is not a certainty that the next time they call or raise from early position they also have one of the top hole card holdings.

It is inductive reasoning to say that it is likely since it is not a certainty.

Therefore, close observation of how opponents play on every hand may lead to informed decisions that result in your winning money even though the conclusions you reach this way are not guaranteed.

Thus, it is important to learn how to reads opponents’ actions and how to deduce inductively from them to win more hands and to get out of hands more judiciously.

Train Yourself to Pay Attention Better

Whether a player draws deductive or inductive conclusions, any conclusion is possible only through close observation.  That means paying attention.  A core element of excellence at Texas Hold’em is the ability to pay attention.  This also means being able to fight through boredom!

Juicy Stakes Offers Great Online Poker

We question the value in terms of developing better skills in Texas Hold’em of traveling to a land-based poker room.  Players play many more hands online and get the chance to improve their powers of observation as often as they chose to play.



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