The ability to induce calls from opponents is something that’s absolutely unique to live poker. While you could try to talk
in a chat box while playing online, this isn’t likely to generate
consistently profitable results. Live poker is popular largely,
maybe even primarily, because of its inherent social qualities.
You are going to be interacting with other players on an ongoing
basis. This means you can see their tendencies, force them into
moves they wouldn’t otherwise make, and so on and so forth.
While there will be many situations in which anything you say or
do will prove to be irrelevant, there are also going to be times
where you can persuade people to make calls that they usually
For the most part, there are three different types of people
when it comes to table talk. There are players who are good at it, players
who are bad at it, and players who don’t talk at all, or at
least not in big hands where it could play a role. You should be
able to pick up on who is good and who is bad, but this skill
relies entirely on your own awareness of table talk. If there’s
one thing that people don’t tend to talk about (no pun intended)
in live poker, but that’s actually very important, it would be the
non-play skills that make a difference. Talking someone into a
call could be the difference between a winning or a losing
session, so you should be doing whatever you can to create the
most profitable outcome in any given situation.
Talking at the table is hardly the only way to induce a call.
In fact, your body language could be one of your most deadly yet silent
weapons. If you are able to act in a certain way that makes
someone decide to call, you are obviously doing something right.
The key to using body language to induce the action that you
like is making sure that you know your audience. Some people
just aren’t going to pay attention to you no matter what you do.
Others will read into every little action. Still others will
think that stereotypical signs in poker are what they should be
keeping their eyes on. Since each tactic is going to have
varying usability depending upon the situation and opponent, you
should consider each of these “artificial tells” to be part of a
more complete and diverse arsenal.
For all intents and purposes, you are going to be wanting a
big call either when you are all in or after betting on the
river. For this reason, you are going to more safely be able to
identify when you can start to give off some signs. One of the
most popular and reliable tells is to look around and away from
the table after betting. Instead of a stare at the board, a
strong player will often times gaze into the distance. If you
think your opponent is likely to be aware of this tell, you can
use it to your advantage by staring at the board when you bet.
Personally, I feel like a strong, steady stare at the board
(with occasional glances at the player) is one of the best ways
to get a call. You can appear subtly nervous if you try hard
enough. Practice staring intently at the board and feign
apprehensiveness towards breathing or moving at all. Extreme
stillness seems to be one of the physical tells that gets people
to call, and with good reason, because it frequently will
My second favorite physical tell to make it appear as if I am
bluffing is to fumble my chips when shuffling. If you don’t
normally shuffle your chips from time to time, this isn’t going
to be as effective. If you are a chronic shuffler like many live
poker players are, however, you can drop and act nervously.
There’s a lot of skill that can go into acting nervously whilst
pretending to hide that nervousness. You basically want to act
like a nervous person who is trying to feign confidence. You can
do this by fumbling chips, swallowing while pretending to hide
the swallow, etc. People think they have picked apart your fear
when in reality it’s only a gimmick.
Talking is much more of an art in poker than it is a science.
If you aren’t good at it now it’s likely going to take a lot of
time and effort to work on your approach. Talking to an opponent
assumes both that they will read into what you say and that they
will also do what you want them to do. If someone is listening
to you but interprets something in the wrong way, you are
punishing yourself. This is why it can be best to simply stay
quiet as you can easily be hurting yourself much more than you
If you do decide to talk, it’s best to do so once it seems
like the person is conceding and about to muck. At this point
you don’t have a whole lot to lose. Saying things like “come on,
we know you are folding” can either expedite the folding process
or get them to change their mind. Is it going to be common for
you to totally transform a fold into a call? No, of course not,
it all comes back to having nothing to lose.
If you truly don’t know whether someone is leaning towards a
call or a fold, it’s generally best to keep quiet. Once you
have some information from them, you can then work around their
current position. It should be pretty obvious if someone is
bemoaning how they think they have to call vs. how they are sure
they are beat.
If someone is really on the edge of a call and
you haven’t said anything up until this point, speaking up now
just doesn’t make any sense. If anything, you might throw them
off and change their mind altogether. In the end, talking in an
attempt to induce a call is usually going to be a better play
once you are already sure that they were going to fold. In most
other situations, there’s a good chance that you are going to
be doing more harm than good.
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