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Playing Deceptively – Part 2: Reading Your Own Hand

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In Understanding Deception: Part 1 I introduced the notion of a deceptive strategy as opposed to a deceptive play. A slowplay by itself, for instance, cannot be deceptive because it is just one play. Indeed, if you slowplay habitually you will often end up with a strategy that is not deceptive at all.

A deceptive strategy is one that produces wide and balanced hand ranges for most common betting lines.

Most people don’t play deceptively. They play by a relatively simple set of rules and principles, and they often find themselves in situations where their opponents can know that they can never be bluffing, they can never have a strong hand, they can never have a drawing hand, and so forth.

As a simple example, many no-limit players virtually never three barrel bluff. If you never three barrel bluff, your strategy ends up being very straightforward every time you fire three times at a pot – you always have a strong made hand. This makes your range both narrow and unbalanced.

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8 Responses to “Playing Deceptively – Part 2: Reading Your Own Hand”

@ Mon Dec 22, 2008 09:04:35 AM

Ed> “After nearly every decision, ask yourself, ‘What hands would I play this way?’”

This reminds me of a discussion I heard between Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten on the WPT.

Mike> You know there are a lot of levels in poker. At the bottom level, you just play your own cards. At the next level, you think “what cards does my opponent have”. At the next level, its “what does he think I have”. Then there are even more levels, like “what does he think that I think…

Vince> Oh shut up Mike.


@ Mon Dec 22, 2008 09:49:50 AM


I have a few questions and would be glad if you could answer either in this thread or in later posts:

Let me begin with saying that I started poker with Limit Hold’em and then moved to NL, so that might be the reason for my questions.

I understand that mixing up my play is necessary, but I’m afraid that it might backfire and that I use this as a justification for “bad plays”. For example in LHE you should raise a (high) flush draw on the flop after 3 callers, because it earns you money on average. Doesn’t the same principle apply in NL or should I check just for the sake of deception?
Same goes for extremely strong hands where I want to get more money into the pot.

1. Can you comment on “when” it becomes profitable to forego a bet/raise and the additional profit a deception kicks in?

2. Any advice on how to keep myself from making bad plays and justifying them with “Hey, I need to play deceptively!”?

3. I guess bet size is also important and the question is not “bet or check”, but “bet low, bet high, bet inbetween or check”? Any comments on that?

4. Let’s suppose you have 2 players. Player A occasionally plays weak hands strong, but never strong hands weak. Player B occasionally plays strong hands weak, but never weak hands strong. Which player would profit more from his kind of “deceptive play” (please take into account that IN THE HANDS WHEN THEY TRY TO DECEIVE their opponents A bluffs away money, while B ends up with too small pots).

Thanks and enjoy christmas!

@ Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:10:52 PM


JMan’s G-Bucks article that lays the groundwork for a lot of the range balancing concepts that Ed is talking about.

@ Mon Dec 22, 2008 07:41:20 PM

I appologize for posting here… your stoxpoker forum is practically dead and there is no support email I could find… anyway, was just wondering what’s the cost to join stoxpoker for CR member? if you could ask someone in admin to reply it would be great!

@ Tue Dec 23, 2008 05:33:57 PM

Great article.

@ Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:29:31 AM

… and I wondered why that hand looked familiar…? :)

Nice article. I actually think that against a regular I would play K’s and, flush draws, and sets this way every once in a great while. However, I don’t think I would play a straight this way. So, I’ll have to put that on my to do list.

Mike G
@ Wed Dec 24, 2008 04:32:37 PM

But I want to know how to expound like a pompous ass and pretend that I know everything – can you teach me that, Mr poker pro? Oh wait that’s meta you eh.


[...] Understanding Deception: Part 2, I introduced the concept of reading your own hand and using that process to identify situations [...]

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