Talking to yourself is an actual benefit in poker

Dec 8, 2015 3:00 AM

There’s an old saying, “talk is cheap.” Action is what really counts. Like a politician who promises what you want to hear – before the election. But, after he is elected to office, forget it. He has better things to work on.

But it’s different at the poker table. You are not asking anything from anyone. You are talking to yourself – silently, and answering your own questions. Only you are responsible for your subsequent actions.

You are bound to find yourself in a situation that puts you in a quandary. How can you best resolve it – and make the best decision in your favor? Instead of just sitting there, staring at the board, talk to yourself without uttering a single word. Here is an example to illustrate what I am suggesting:

In a middle position, at a full table, you are dealt pocket Queens. Of course, you are quite pleased. Most likely, you have the best hand at this point. It is a “made hand.” It could win the pot even without further improvement. The odds are about 8-to-1 against making a set on the flop. Chances are your Q-Q will be what you end up with on the river.

No one has to prompt you to raise preflop in order to reduce the size of the playing field. If you had your “druthers,” you would like to play this hand against two or three opponents. If there are four or more, your Q-Q becomes an underdog. The more opponents staying in the pot, the more likely one will draw out on you.

Your biggest fear is an Ace or King falls on the board. Against a pair of Aces or Kings, your Q-Q usually has only two outs to win that pot – a big longshot.

Your preflop raise succeeds in reducing the number of opponents staying to see the flop down to just three, the two blinds and the button. Now the dealer delicately lays down the three cards on the flop. Oops! There is an Ace. Shucks! You wince. “Darn,” you say to yourself – silently, without a grimace.

You don’t want to give your opponents a tell they might use against you. Who could blame you? Yes, you may very well be in trouble. Calmly, you look at your opponents. All poker faces. No tells there that you can discern. They know how to disguise their emotions. No one is picking up a batch of chips in anticipation of making a bet.

The two blinds check to you. Now you ask yourself – without uttering a sound: “What kind of players are they? Is one of them deceptive?” You answer yourself: “No.” Then neither of the two blinds likely has paired the Ace on the board. If so, based on your prior observations, he would have opened with a bet on the flop.

Then, you ask yourself: “How about the button, who has yet to act?” You have been watching his play for about an hour. So, you know he is quite loose. He plays lots of hands you would have mucked without giving it a second thought. You have seen him play A-rag on several occasions. “Could this be another?” Silently, you ask yourself: “What should I do?”

And, then you answer yourself: “I think I’ll bet and see how he responds.” That’s a probing bet. If he responds by raising, then you know your Q-Q is in deep trouble – and you might very well subsequently fold your hand. If he just calls or folds, you have a good chance of taking the pot without improving. If they all fold, that’s OK. I would rather win a small pot than lose a big one.

That is a good example of talking to yourself while playing poker. Do not move your lips. Do not utter a sound. Keep it all to yourself. And, do not cover your mouth. Someone might take that as a tell and act against your best interests.

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