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Forked Tongues

TV reality games, like "Survivors," highlight manipulation, misdirection, forming false alliances, and tricking people-all to win a bunch of money. Well, it might seem like something new to the world of TV audiences; but, it's old stuff in the poker world. In fact, when a player gets friendly with you it's just a matter of time before that player sets a trap to get more of your chips. I'm not being a cynic. It's part of the game of poker.

There's a lot of misleading ways players talk to each other. For example, when playing Texas Hold 'em, before the flop, in any position, I might ask myself, "Are these cards good enough to raise or call a raise with?" My attitude is one of, "if I can't raise before the flop, I can't play," (unless I want to bluff and pretend to have something I don't). If the answer is "No," I may limp in if I am on the button or next to it. If someone raises a bet, though, I'm gone. If the answer to my question is "Yes," I'll either call or raise (depending on what my position is). In early position with good cards, I will usually just call the blinds. In a late position, it will be a raise. If anyone has raised before me, I will call or re-raise the bet. When I fold, call, or raise, I am saying something to the other players. And, believe me, they are listening.

After all, calling, betting, raising, and re-raising bets is just the way that poker players communicate with each other. However, what is said at a poker table may be the truth and then again, players may be saying things to bluff or mislead others. For example, if I raised and got called by two players before the flop, I said, "I've got good playing cards, how about you?" At least, that is what I am representing. It could be a bluff. Several player may fold and be saying, "Not me." Two players could call and answer, "Well, so do I and they might beat yours." If I am bluffing, they are likely not. However, it's still communication. In this case, I could be doing what I call, "Taking the table temperature." In other words, often players say or do things to get a response or reaction from other players. They may be betting to see who's got something.

After the flop, if I am the first to act, I might check or bet. What am I saying? Of course, I am saying something that may be the truth or a bluff. Often a player will check after the flop. What does this say? Beware of those who speak with forked tongues. This is a common ploy to see who wants to step into a trap. If a player gets trips or two pair on the flop, he may check, representing, "I don't have much of that." When a player bets, he or she is saying, "I've got some of that." When the original checker raises, he or she is responding, "Not as much as I do, got'ya!" Of course that is what the check/ raiser is saying. It could, as most veteran players know, be another hoax and represent a cold stone bluff. What the point of all this talk? It's simply that what you are saying by your actions and your mouth are designed to mislead others. That because, as in TV reality games, whatever is being said in poker is seldom truth. In life outside of the casino-at least before the reality games-people took what people said at face value. Poker is the first reality game full of promises, deceptions, truth, loyalty, and "skull-duggery." Now, that I've told you how I play before and after the flop, are you sure that that is REALLY how I play?

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