Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published (2005) in Poker Player newspaper.
I forgot about Christmas. I’m sorry. It came and went without me even wishing you holiday greetings. I suck. Oh, well, this reminds me, anyway, of an important poker lecture I broadcast years ago.
It’s about how to exploit your opponents’ bias toward calling. That’s right! You’re opponents are predetermined to call, rather than fold, unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary. Understanding this simple truth and exploiting it will add greatly to your bankroll.
That’s why, today, we’re going to revisit a recorded Christmas lecture from years past and I’m going to share the actual script used for that broadcast. Here goes…
Extract extra dollars
Hey, it’s Christmas time, and I’m hear to say ho-ho-ho. And no matter what you believe or how you choose to celebrate the holiday season, it’s a great time to hug your wife and kids and kiss your cat. But let’s move on…
It can be Christmas everyday at poker. Today, I’m going to talk about one of the most persistently profitable ploys you can use to extract extra dollars from your opponents. First, you’ve got to understand the powerful concept that makes this possible.
Do you think that your opponents drive for miles to get to the poker room so they can throw hands away? No! All during that drive to the casino they’re thinking, “I hope I get lots of great hands. I can’t wait to get in action. I hope I can catch players bluffing. I want to win lots of pots.” What this means is simple. Your opponents arrive at the poker table with a bias toward calling.
They want to call your bets, and if you hold the winning hand and are trying to get called, well, you have a natural ally in your opponent. You want him to call, and he wants to call you. So, don’t let him get away.
I’ve given a name to the phenomenon of players preferring to call, rather than fold, even when folding is the correct decision for them. I’ve labeled it the “calling reflex.” I teach that there’s a common reflexive action that most players share that makes them call bets unwisely. It goes back to what we just discussed – players didn’t drive to the casino hoping to throw hands away. They came hoping to call bets, to get involved in pots, to see action.
Sure, some of them are rocks and will suffer silently and throw away hand after hand and, when they do get involved in a pot, fold unless you give them a reason to call. But most of your opponents are not rocks, most are there for the action. And even the rocks will crumble against the psychological manipulation and friendly warfare I’m about to suggest. And I just gave you the key, if you were listening closely. I said, the rocks will fold unless you give them a reason to call. A reason to call. That’s the point of profit.
Remember, your opponents want to call when you have a strong hand. They have a calling reflex. It’s your job to trigger it. But how? Easy. Because your opponents want to call, they’re looking for reasons to do it. Let’s say you’ve bet a strong hand and your opponent begins to fold. Picture it. You’ve bet a winning hand and your opponent is in the process of throwing his cards away. Oh, no!
Don’t let that happen without a fight. At this point, you’ve already determined that your opponent is going to fold and you’re not going to win that extra bet unless you take drastic action. So do something! Do anything! You’re on a freeroll if you act fast enough. You have nothing to lose and a whole bet to gain. If you can make your opponent change his mind on this final betting round, that’s $6 you’ll pocket in a $3/$6 game, $200 in a one and two hundred game, $20 in a ten and twenty game. These bonuses can pile up in a hurry, and if you’re a slightly better-than-average small-limit player, eking out a little bit an hour in profit, you might more than double your hourly earnings with this trick alone.
So, pay attention. As your opponent begins to fold, knock over your chips, cough, laugh, wiggle in your seat. Look back at your cards in an animated way. Do something, anything to get this opponent’s attention. Very often, this will be enough to cause him to reconsider his fold. What you’re doing seems suspicious, simply because he’s looking for reasons to be suspicious.
Usually he’ll fold anyway, but often enough he’ll change his mind and call. And that’s pure, 100 percent profit that you wouldn’t have earned if you’d just sat there and let the opponent fold. So, repeating. When you think you have the winning hand on the last betting round and an opponent begins to fold, get animated or vocal. Do anything to break his concentration and make him reevaluate. Many times you’ll manufacture a call out of thin air. And that’s pure profit. It’s a poker miracle. It’s Christmas everyday. And you can make it happen. — MC