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Poker Psychology

The meaning of psychology, in the poker terms is straightforward. It means getting into your rivals' heads, evaluating how they think, figuring out what they think you think and even ascertaining what they think you think they think. In other words, the psychology of poker is an extension of reading rivals' hands and also an extension of using deception in the way you play your own hand.

For example on third street, you have a low card up, last in position, have a hand of less value, and raise trying to steal the antes. You get re-raised by a strong player, who was the bring-in (with a low card up) and who knows that you would automatically try to steal in this position. As you know that he knows you automatically would try to steal, his re-raise doesn't mean that he has a good hand. However, as your rival may also be bluffing, the correct play would be to raise back and hen bet again on fourth and fifth streets unless you chase a decent cards.

It leads us to another point. The above play succeeds because you are against a strong player who is quite sensible. A weak player does not have the same thing. As you cannot put a weak player on a hand, you even cannot put him on either thinking.

A complicated seven-card stud eight-or-better can go further above this third level. Suppose an early-position player (who is high) chases a suited card on fourth street. He bets and strong player with two low cards representing calls. The player who is high chases a blank on fifth poker street and bets again. His rival, who thinks this player is on a flush draw (maybe because he called with the high upcard on third street), can now raise with only a small pair and three low cards. His rival will realize this and raise back, trying to show a strong hand. The initial raiser will understand this possibility and call his rival down. When the hand is completed, supposing that the flush card does not come, if the initial raiser is truly against a flush draw, his calls will look great to some rivals. However, if it turns out that the first bettor actually has a hand, the calls would seem like a "sucker play."

At the standard level of seven-card stud eight-or-better, the "skill" to outwit your rival sometimes can extend too many levels where your judgment of making decision may collapse. Conversely, in a normal play against good players, you should usually think at least up to the third level. The first thing to think about is what your rival will have. The second thing would be about what your rival think you have. And third, to think about what your rival thinks you think he has. When you are playing against weak players who may not care to see what you have and who may really do not think about what you think they have, does it not necessarily pay in going through such thoughtful procedures. Against all others, it is important for a successful play as deception is a great aspect of the game.

There are many other crucial ideas that play a very significant role in the psychology of Internet poker. When a rival bets in a situation where he is certain that you will call, he is certainly not poker bluffing.

For instance a situation crops up where you have been betting all through the way, he bet again after all the cards are out and a player raises you. There are few things very rare that the player is competent of raising on the end as a bluff. This is especially true in seven-card stud eight-or-better if your rival thinks that you know you should always call, particularly when it happens that you have a chance to run with half the pot. Likewise, you should normally fold, unless your hand can beat some other legitimate hands with which he might be raising or you have a fair chance of winning at least half the pot at the showdown. (But better be careful with those players who know you are proficient of these folds.)

On the other hand, it is not necessarily correct to fold on fifth street and sixth street. Rigid players will raise on these later streets if they have an average hand which might later has a chance to become a best hand. For example, there is a four-card low with a small pair. Those who have folded when raised in such cases are giving up much equity in the pot. This is particularly true at the higher limits where the games are generally tougher and where the plays are ordinary.

The outcome to this rule which we have been discussed is that if your rival bets when it happens to be a good chance that you will fold, he may be bluffing definitely. In other words, if the rival bets in such situation where he believes he might be able to get away with a bluff, you have to consider his calling, even with an average hand.

Let's take another example when both you and your rival turn up to have four-card lows on fourth poker street but both chase blanks on fifth and sixth streets. If he now bets on the river and he is a kind of player who will try to pick up the pot with nothing, it may be correct to call or raise with considerably weak hand.
When you decide whether to bet, it is equally essential to determine what your rival think you have. If your rival doubts a strong hand, you should bluff a lot. (However, you should not bet a decent hand for value in this situation.)

The similar example of this is when you raise on fourth street with two small suited upcards and then chase a blank on fifth street. If you check on fifth street but bet again on sixth street when you have chased a third small suited card, it is difficult for anyone going high to call with only a pair. Therefore bet your small pairs at this point.

However, if you know your rival suspects that you are weak, you should not try to bluff because there is a chance that you will get caught. But, you should bet your decent hands for value. For instance, if both you and your rival checked on sixth poker street, you often can bet one big pair on the end for value, especially when your rival is going low.

Making a change in your play and also making an "incorrect" play intentionally are also a part of the psychology of seven-card stud eight-or-better because you are trying to change the thinking your rival for future hands. For instance, on third street you may re-raise a late-position player rarely with a small card up, who may be on a steal, when you hold something like a rough three-card eight that does not have straight possibility (mainly if the card is live). Suppose, your rival see your hand in the showdown and it is clear with which you re-raised with, they should persuade less to steal against you in a same situations. Also, you are taking the advantage of the image you created to get paid off later, when you bet with a legitimate re-raising hand.

The example to this kind of play is to throw in an extra early raise with a hand that does not really guarantee it to give the illusion of action. For example, suppose on third street you rarely re-raise a high card smaller than an ace with a hand like



particularly if you are going to play this hand. This play cost only a proportion of bet in mathematical expectation but may gain you a huge amount in future on the subsequent hands.

In stud eight-or-better, there are several other method which can affect your rival's play on future hands. For instance, you may want to make what you think is a bad call if you think that this play will keep other players from running over you. If you discover that you have been forced to throw away your hand on sixth street twice or thrice in a row, you should be ready to call the next time with a hand that you usually would not call with, even if it costs you some bets. This is because you can assume that your rival has seen you folding and are trying to drive you out.

The other situation where you should think of the future is to limp sometimes in early position on third street with a strong hand - such as a pair of aces and a small card, with one of the aces up. Then again check on fourth street and indeed on fifth street, even if there was no raise on third street and also if you get small cards. You will not only chase someone stealing but also this check may enable you to steal the pot yourself in a future hand when there has been almost no poker betting on the early rounds (particularly when you chase a small cards that pairs you). You can get away a steal because you have made your rival think that you are competent enough to check a big hand twice. Therefore, someone with an average hand may not call the double-sized fifth-street bet.

Generally, you should determine any play based on its advantage alone, that is, on its expectation in a particular situation. Conversely, you may rarely expect to do something that is theoretically wrong to create an image for the future. Once you have made your rival think the way you want him to think, you can certainly take the advantage of that thinking in the future.

In conclusion, remember that these kinds of plays succeeds only against those rivals who are good enough to try to take the advantage of their creativity but who are not good enough to understand that you know this and that they should thus overlook it. Like in other forms of poker, seven-card stud eight-or-better also appear to have a large group of players who like to "realize things." You should actually know how these people think and whether they are thinking on the level that you want them to think. If they think on a larger level, then you will have to move one step ahead up to that level.

Poker Afterthought

As we have discussed, the significant concepts of seven-card stud eight-or-better are reading hands and psychology. In other words, this game is sophisticated to play by rote. If you always play a certain hand in a certain position a certain way, your game can use a lot of improvement. You should consider your rivals, how the present hand has been played, how earlier hand were played, your rival perceptions of you and so on. If you ignore these things, you may be able to win but you will never accomplish an excellent position.

Most of the ideas are strong against decent players - that is players who play in predictable manner and who are competent of realizing things when at the online poker table. Against bad players, straightforward play is the best strategy and against very good players, these ideas possibly can make you with them.

In conclusion, several players place much emphasizes on these ideas discussed in this section. They are generally very essential but it is some of the tools that the excellent player has in his seven-card stud eight-or-better arsenal. To make the player at the top position, reading hands and psychology must be utilized in combination with all the other ideas and concepts which have been discussed.

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