Deceiving Your Enemy

For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.

This quote from Sun Tzu says that you should attack where the enemy is mentally unprepared for you. Your opponent will concentrate more mental energy on aspects of your game that they have seen and in the process will relax their guard to moves in the opposite direction. When you start a poker game, each of your opponents are trying to figure you out. Even when playing poker online, everything your opponent sees will build up expectations that they will use in future hands. They will make minor mental adjustments to their game every time it is your turn and major mental adjustments every time your cards are shown at the end of a hand.

This is why you need to always think from your opponents point of view.The signals you give should tell an opponent something that they will act on. Once you have given them a signal do not be afraid of large raises. In fact don’t give them a signal that will make them raise unless you are prepared to call. Their large raise is a direct result of the sign you have given them saying that your hand is weak and that theirs is the winning poker hand. If they go all-in it’s because you have just told them to, so don’t get scared and fold.

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

When your opponent manipulates you before you have manipulated them in a hand they are in a strong position. If you catch a great hand after they have started manipulating you their position quickly becomes weak. When you perceive that your opponent is strong you should avoid them. When your opponent tells you how to bet you are fighting on their battlefield. When you manipulate your opponents opinions of what you have they may only think they’ve chosen the battlefield. In fact, sometimes your opponent will do you a favour and choose the wrong battlefield. If you have given them a signal before they begin to tell you how to bet then you have to decide whether they are betting because they are strong, or whether they are betting because they perceive you to be weak.

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.

When you defeat your opponent with a certain tactic they will make major adjustments to their game. Sometimes a new tactic can involve using one that you’ve already used in a new situation or in a different way. For example if you bluff a couple hands and then catch a great hand you may want to make it appear that you are bluffing. Your opponent is thinking that it would be impossible for you to catch cards every time and will start to wonder if this is a bluff. Do all the same things you did from the previous hand and your opponent may perceive the bets as a bluff and call you on a hand where you have them beat. This is not repeating tactics because you are making the same play in a different position.

These strategies are all designed to make the enemy strengthen one element of their game so you can attack from the opposite direction. The opening quote by Sun Tzu shows that when a player increases their attention in a given direction they weaken themselves to moves from the opposite direction. To learn how to bet in poker you need to learn to predict what your opponent will think you have based on the amount that you bet. When you shape the way your opponent sees you and attack from the opposite direction your opponent will be far more comfortable betting at the pot. The way to make money playing poker online is to convince your opponent you play one way until one decisive hand where you play completely opposite to every assumption they have made about you so that they are completely suprised when you lay down a winning poker hand.

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  • Alexia Blunkall, 10.03.2012, 8:58 дп

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