How to Induce Folds
Inducing a fold at the poker table isn't the most exciting thing to do. One small mistake and you could wind up with a quick call that puts you in a bad spot. With that said, however, there are many tips and tricks that can be used to increase the odds of forcing a fold from your opponents. It can be as simple as moving your hand a certain way, or it can be as complicated as knowing exactly what to say and in what tone. Inducing folds from opponents is much more of an art than it is a science. A careful, methodical approach is an absolute necessity if you want to force folds consistently.
There are two different areas that you'll need to look at when attempting to induce a fold. You can either use varied forms of body language or you can use spoken words. The two are very different and the odds are that you'll be much better at one than the other. Some people can always talk their opponents into doing exactly what they want, while others tend to screw themselves into a hole as soon as they open their mouths. It's important, and even vital, that you learn which you are better at.
To me, giving off false tells through body language is easier to do than convincing someone to fold by talking to them. If one thing is for certain, it's that your risk is much higher whenever you talk. It's easy for someone to interpret your body language in many different ways, but language will inadvertently give off clues that you might not have been aiming for. Most people will just have a more natural feel for where you stand once they have you engaged in conversation. You might be very good at talking, though, and this would benefit you tremendously in the end.
Body language is a very complex and virtually unending topic. You can't pinpoint certain actions as meaning one thing or another. Leaning back in a chair could mean someone is strong and comfortable, but it might mean that another player is incredibly nervous. Different people are going to naturally have different reactions to any given situation. The best thing that you can do is to use context clues to your advantage. Take the action in the hand, history, and tendencies as one group and then determine what they are likely to mean in conjunction with one another. Instead of using an opponent's action to pick up on a read, you are now going to try and get them to think you are strong. The better you are at making reads, the better you'll be at tricking your opponents into making the wrong ones.
As mentioned previously, there are many different ways that you can attempt to force folds via body language. For the sake of this article, we are going to discuss some of the most common and frequent spots that you are likely to encounter.
If you are trying to get someone to fold, it should go without saying that you want to appear strong and confident. As odd as it might seem, over confidence is going to dash your chances of success more than most anything else. A genuine, believable story is the most crucial element of any bluff. You shouldn't speak loudly, act quickly, and bet your chips with absolute authority. Though these three things, to an outsider, would scream extreme strength, they are often times the furthest thing from it. One thing that you'll need to keep in mind is that players of different experience levels will interpret your actions in different ways. A totally amateur or novice player is more inclined to be intimidated by a quick bet, whereas a more experienced player is going to know that this can easily be a sign of feigned strength. Because of this, you should be catering your strategy according to the opponent you are facing.
One of the best ways to appear strong is to avoid contact while remaining firm and steady in your composure. Place your bet, keep your hands over your cards, and stare at the board while taking glances in the air. If you'd prefer, simply looking at the board the whole time would also suffice (though I don't personally suggest this). I have always felt that a stern stare at the pot, board, and table is more likely to procure a call than a fold. A more relaxed look around (a disconcerted type of gaze) is best for finding folds. You want to give off the impression that you are super calm. Don't kick back in your chair and start chatting, just stay focused whilst remaining poised.
If you like to shuffle and play with your chips, make sure you aren't fumbling around. This type of nervousness will be immediately apparent, and it's also the reason why fake nervous shuffling is a great way to get calls. I wouldn't generally advise playing with chips at all, but if you have your head leaning against your hand, it could make you appear more relaxed. Playing with chips is a risky way to induce folds as it can easily backfire.
Talking your way into a fold is much easier said than done, no pun intended. You'll need to have a lot of experience in these spots if you want to get a feel for what truly works. It's hard to wing it in these situations because you are going to be so prone to making massive mistakes that destroy your chances of success. Everyone isn't like World Series of Poker Champion Jamie Gold at the table in that they can't coerce opponents to fold seemingly on command. The problem for many players is that they think they are displaying their "skills" when they try to use table talk to influence decisions. While there is a chance it could work, there's a better chance that it won't.
If you absolutely have your heart set on talking in order to try and get folds from opponents, you should always make sure your thoughts are pre-meditated. Think about how you would react if someone said the same thing to you. Don't get caught up in the moment and start spurting things that could hurt you.
Asking someone what they have and making guesses as to their holdings tends to work a lot more often than you might imagine. As you guess hands, players tend to be less and less comfortable. The reason for this is because it makes it seem as though you do truly want a call. Players who want calls (and think their opponent might fold) like to talk more and more as time goes on, taking a shot at getting what they want (a call). To say that this strategy is fool proof would be a lie, but it's going to work more often than most other lines at the table.
When it comes down to it, talking to your opponents is going to require a unique approach for each and every player. Your particular style of play coupled with your history and table dynamics will ultimately define what type of table talk is best for you. If there's one thing to remember, it's that there's a fine line between genius talk and absolute disaster. If you cross that line even by an inch, you can very well be in a world of trouble.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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