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Poker Tells: Encouraging and Discouraging Bets

Poker players do little things to influence the game whether or not it's their turn to bet. You know it is acting when it is noticeable. Make sure you disappoint them by doing the opposite of what they want.

Do not forget that during a betting round, it won't be just one player trying to either discourage or encourage your bet.

Encouraging Bets

Why would a poker player want to encourage your bet? When they think they can get your money. The more you bet, the bigger their profit when they win (and they are sure they will win). This is when players perform acts meant to encourage a bet.

- A player with a winning hand will do everything they can to induce a bet. Often they will try to seem harmless by acting uninterested. They will do nothing that might discourage you from betting.

- When a player is acting as if they would pass out of turn, they are trying to make you bet. This is very dangerous. Don't call and don't bluff. Pause and then check.

Discouraging Bets

A player will want to discourage your bet when they know they can't win. If you are short on chips, or have a tight table image, you will find yourself a frequent target of bluffs.

If you catch a tell meant to discourage your bet, you can play more hands and possibly win the entire pot.

- When a player stares you down and reaches for their chips as you are betting, it is an attempt to discourage you. Bet.

- A player with a weak hand may try to discourage others from betting by prematurely holding their chips and acting as if they are going to bet. This also applies to a draw poker game like Jacks or Better to Open when a player is hoping this show would keep everyone else from betting (thus new hands would be dealt). This play is no threat.

- When someone tries to reach for the pot prematurely as you are about to pass, they may be bluffing. They want the hand to end early. But if they do this when you are still deciding what to do, they may be luring you into a call (i.e. by annoying you). Foil their plan by doing the opposite of what they want.

- Spreading a hand is a reliable sign of bluffing. They are trying to discourage a bet. Call or raise.

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