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Daniel Negreanu – Talking at the poker table during a poker game

[ Posted June 9th, 2006 ] by admin

There are two opposing views on the effectiveness of table talk.

Chatting at the poker table can give you an opportunity to learn about your opponent’s hand, but the risk is that you might give away too much information about your own.

I’m convinced that when used properly, in the right circumstances and against the right opponent, table talk can help you gain enough information about another player’s hand that it’s worth the risk.

The juggling act you face is trying not to divulge too much information about your own hand.

Here are my seven rules to successful table talk:

1. Avoid table talk if you are a beginner. If you are just learning the game, don’t get caught up in psychological warfare with players who are more experienced. Instead, focus on the fundamentals such as understanding the strength of your hand and what your opponents have, before tackling the art of table talk.

2. Avoid talking to great players. If you are up against an expert, chances are she’ll be able to read through whatever you’re saying and figure you out before you get any information about her.

3. Do your talking on your own time. If an opponent is studying you, you’d be better off sitting still and staring at one spot on the table. Unless you feel like you can manipulate your opponent into doing exactly what you want him to do, stay quiet.

Now, if you are studying your opponent and he is willing to have a conversation, try this: ask him, "What are winters like in Phoenix?" The way he answers that innocuous question may give you the clue you need to figure him out.

4. Mix it up. I know lying is sinful, but all is forgiven at the poker table. If people start to peg you as a player who always tells the truth, or always lies about your hand, then all your chatter will do is guide your opponent in the right direction.

If you want to be a table-talker, you’ll need to learn to lie with the same tone, mannerisms and speed as you would if you were telling the truth. If that’s not something you are comfortable doing, then keep your mouth shut.

5. Avoid patterns. I cannot tell you how many chatterboxes I know who clam up like scaredy cats when they are bluffing. They yap away when they have the nuts, but when they are in jeopardy they suddenly come down with a case of laryngitis.

Don’t be that player. If you can’t hold a normal conversation when you’re bluffing, don’t table talk.

6. Be fun and relax. If you’re relaxed when you’re talking to your opponent, you increase the chances of him being the same. And when he’s relaxed, chances are he’ll be less conscious of what information he is giving away.

7. Manipulate the weak. The weak players are the ones you should look to exploit with table talk.

Say, for example, you have the nuts and want your opponent to call but notice that he is about to throw his hand away. Say something to make him reconsider. Before he lets go of his cards, try something like, "Phew! For a second there it looked like you were going to call me."

There’s one last thing to keep in mind. At all times, avoid being rude or mean in any way. It’s not necessary behavior.

Being a jerk at the poker table does not help your bottom line. People are generally a lot looser with their money when they’re having fun.

By Daniel Negreanu

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