Often you can know with almost absolute certainty when a poker opponent is bluffing. Few players understand how that’s possible.
So, they fold—failing to catch the bluff—when they could have won huge pots by calling.
Obviously, knowing the secret will add significantly to your bankroll. And today, I’m going to share it with you.
First, we need to talk about Jack. In the 1970s, he was a hostile and intimidating force — a barroom brawler that people avoided. And he brought his menacing disposition to the poker tables in Gardena, California.
They say every man has a softer side once you get to know him. I don’t think that applied to Jack. Anyway, we’re in a game. It’s five-card draw, limit poker with double the betting size after the draw. I have drawn three cards to a pair of kings and not improved. Jack had drawn one. I check. Jack bets. He didn’t have a history of bluffing in that situation, so right away my instinct was to fold. But within seconds, I realized I would call, instead. Let’s examine why.
Imagine you’re walking along a path through the forest and suddenly, right in front of you, there’s a rattlesnake. It’s coiled and ready to strike. Had you seen it sooner, you would have walked in another direction. But now you’re too close.
So, what do you do?
You freeze. It’s a natural reaction.
You’re afraid that the slightest movement will prompt that snake to bite you. And now there’s this drama, this close encounter, this standoff in which all motion stops. You wait, hoping the threat will pass. And luckily, the snake eventually slithers back to its family at the snake condo or wherever. You can move again. Do you have that image in your head? Fine.
After an opponent bluffs, he perceives you as a snake. He doesn’t want to do anything to make you strike. So, what happens? He freezes, or at least does as little as possible to get your attention.
All you have to do is compare the reactions of poker players when they’re bluffing and when they’re not to understand this great truth. Although not all poker players fit the same profile, most do. And when you average all their profiles together, it filters down to this great truth...
Opponents who hold strong hands are more animated. They’re not afraid that their actions will make you suspicious and entice a call. That’s because they want you to call. But opponents who are bluffing are afraid that anything they do will make you curious enough to call.
Bluffers don’t what to seem suspicious to you, so they tend to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. As I’ve pointed out many times, they’re breathing is often unusually shallow and sometimes they don’t breathe at all. You’re the snake and they’re trying to keep you from striking. It’s just that simple.