Targeted poker quiz 04: Psychology (beginner)


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. This 39-part series of quizzes, originally published (2004-2006) in Poker Player, is based on the Mike Caro University of Poker library of research and advice. In each entry, Mike Caro presents 10 questions covering a category of poker, targeted for beginner, intermediate, or advanced players. Answers with explanations appear below each quiz, with the questions repeated for easy reference.


The MCU Targeted Poker Quiz series

(See the index to this series)

Psychology (level: beginner)

    Psychology — All poker games (level: beginner)

    1. The best way to learn to play poker profitably is to master the basics of psychology first, then the basics of strategy later

      (a) true

      (b) false.

    2. Of the following, the time when your opponents are most intimidated is when…

      (a) you’re on a lucky streak;

      (b) you’re staring at your cards;

      (c) they’ve been winning with weak hands up until now;

      (d) you’re dressed professionally in a suit and tie.

    3. You should condition yourself to…

      (a) only choose tactics that give you the best chance at winning the pot;

      (b) ridicule your opponents whenever they play a hand well;

      (c) ridicule your opponents whenever they play a hand poorly;

      (d) be a force to be reckoned with at the table.

    4. Opponents who find themselves losing more than they can easily afford usually…

      (a) quit immediately;

      (b) start to play more conservatively, in an attempt to get even;

      (c) start to play more liberally, in an attempt to get even;

      (d) are much easier to bluff.

    5. If you want to get called, you should stay very still.

      (a) true;

      (b) false.

    6. Games with a lot of laughter are usually more profitable than games that are silent.

      (a) true;

      (b) false.

    7. Superstitious opponents are…

      (a) very hard to manipulate;

      (b) usually not quality players;

      (c) the most dangerous kind;

      (d) never going to win for more than a few hours.

    8. Opponents who just sat down are…

      (a) usually very aggressive at first;

      (b) usually going to bluff at least once in the first five hands;

      (c) not very choosey about the hands they play;

      (d) easier to bluff.

    9. When you’re losing…

      (a) nobody ever notices;

      (b) opponents stay out of your pots;

      (c) it’s a good time to point out your bad luck to your opponents;

      (d) opponents tend to play better against you.

    10. Of the following, the worst thing you can do is…

      (a) buy into the game for more than twice the minimum required;

      (b) appear overly confident;

      (c) complain about your bad luck;

      (d) wear a hat at the poker table.


Answers and explanations (with questions repeated for convenience)

Psychology (level: beginner)

  1. The best way to learn to play poker profitably is to master the basics of psychology first, then the basics of strategy later

    (a) true

    (b) false.

    Answer: (b). Psychology, elaborate plays, and reading tells must come later. In order to learn poker to win, you must first concentrate on basic strategy and procedures.

  2. Of the following, the time when your opponents are most intimidated is when…

    (a) you’re on a lucky streak;

    (b) you’re staring at your cards;

    (c) they’ve been winning with weak hands up until now;

    (d) you’re dressed professionally in a suit and tie.

    Answer: (a). Opponents unconsciously fear luck more than anything else. When you’re lucky, you have a chance to rule the table.

  3. You should condition yourself to…

    (a) only choose tactics that give you the best chance at winning the pot;

    (b) ridicule your opponents whenever they play a hand well;

    (c) ridicule your opponents whenever they play a hand poorly;

    (d) be a force to be reckoned with at the table.

    Answer: (d). Try to be the one force at your table to be reckoned with. You know you’ve succeeded when players look at you before deciding what to do with their hands.

  4. Opponents who find themselves losing more than they can easily afford usually…

    (a) quit immediately;

    (b) start to play more conservatively, in an attempt to get even;

    (c) start to play more liberally, in an attempt to get even;

    (d) are much easier to bluff.

    Answer: (c). Expect opponents who are losing a lot to play more hands irrationally in an attempt to win back their losses.

  5. If you want to get called, you should stay very still.

    (a) true;

    (b) false.

    Answer: (b). You should be animated if you want a call, because most opponents are looking for reasons to call. They’ll invent reasons when they see you doing lots of “suspicious” things. If you stay still, you’re less likely to trigger a call.

  6. Games with a lot of laughter are usually more profitable than games that are silent.

    (a) true;

    (b) false.

    Answer: (a). You should absolutely favor tables with laughter. Those players are likely to be playing for entertainment, and they’ll be easier for you to beat. Silence usually means players are taking the game too seriously for you to make much profit.

  7. Superstitious opponents are…

    (a) very hard to manipulate;

    (b) usually not quality players;

    (c) the most dangerous kind;

    (d) never going to win for more than a few hours.

    Answer: (b). Superstition and poker don’t mix. You need to always make decisions based on logic, not superstition. And opponents who don’t do this are unlikely to be winners.

  8. Opponents who just sat down are…

    (a) usually very aggressive at first;

    (b) usually going to bluff at least once in the first five hands;

    (c) not very choosey about the hands they play;

    (d) easier to bluff.

    Answer (d). When opponents first sit down, they’re determined to play conservatively and rationally. They’re less reckless than they’ll become later. At first, they’re not usually aggressive (so A is out); they won’t bluff as often (so B is out); they definitely are choosey about hands (so C is out); and — because they’re cautious — they’re easier to bluff.

  9. When you’re losing…

    (a) nobody ever notices;

    (b) opponents stay out of your pots;

    (c) it’s a good time to point out your bad luck to your opponents;

    (d) opponents tend to play better against you.

    Answer: (d). Opponents are inspired when you’re losing. They think you’re someone they can beat, and frequently this motivates them to play better.

  10. Of the following, the worst thing you can do is…

    (a) buy into the game for more than twice the minimum required;

    (b) appear overly confident;

    (c) complain about your bad luck;

    (d) wear a hat at the poker table.

    Answer: (c). Never complain about your bad luck. Opponents don’t become sympathetic; instead, they think, “Hey, there’s someone unluckier than I am.” And this inspires them to play better against you.


Next MCU Targeted Poker Quiz in this series

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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