People often say that the trick in playing Poker is not in the cards themselves, but in the bluff, instead. There is a reason that the idea of bluffing being the cornerstone to good Poker playing is so prevalent, and that’s because the ability to bluff relies on a player’s ability to read and manipulate the other players at the table. Understanding the peaks and dips of the other players at the table during a game can help one bluff well, but there are many other areas where that kind of awareness helps as well.
Knowing how to size the bets to affect change in behaviour, knowing when to push and when to let the opponent enjoy his or her limelight, and being able to see the moments of weakness in the other player(s) that open windows into their methodologies and goals, are all examples of the same level of consciousness required to bluff, but also which are required to play the game with the best of them. It may seem like a complex topic, and it is, but there are a few easy things that you can start working on during your next game.
One of the first things that you can look for in your opponent is whether they are getting angry or frustrated. As soon as you see you adversary angry or frustrated, you know you have already won so long as you can keep your cool. When these emotions hit a player, it becomes very difficult to think clearly which means that making winning decisions during gameplay is also out.
Another thing to look for is if the opponent is looking for a specific outcome. When players are expecting a very particular card or hand to be dealt, it is generally very clear. There is a very real psychological connection between the process of the game and how we feel the game should end up based on past events. This is not something that we always feel, and as a result, this is not something that we are often even aware of when it happens. When it strikes, it is clear to everyone else, though, and if it happens to your opponent it is time to begin playing on the offensive because they will not be looking at 90% of the table due to their narrowed vision.