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Leak #10 - Not Seeing Deception

seeing draws Leak #10 "not seeing deception" is symbolized by an image from the movie "Mars attacks!", filmed in 1996. This is an excellent sci-fi movie, where the Martians who land on earth seem very cute, friendly and harmless. Until it appears that they are invaders trying to eradicate the human race.

They first gained our confidence and then stroke unexpectedly. This may happen at the poker table too. Sometimes in poker, things are not as they appear to be. Poker is a game of "imperfect information" unlike chess or weiqi where both opponents share 100% of the information related to the current state of a game.

Using deception to make your opponent miscalculate a given situation is a fundamental concept in poker and holdem poker. For example a simple first level deceptive technique common to all players is to play their strong hands showing weakness (not betting aggressively) and their weak hand strongly (betting and raising), in order to collect chips in the first case, and to make the opponent fold in the second one.

Every one is aware of deception, but there may be situations when we play on autopilot and seem to forget that we are sailing waters infected with dangerous sea creatures. For instance, sometimes we play a hand in a very innocuous way against one opponent.

We have position on him with TPGK, our opponent checks and we gently bet all streets and he calls. Our medium strength hand has not improved, the board was unremarkable and it seems that we both had average hands that would be decided at the river. Except that at the river the villain raised allin.

We were deceived because he led us to believe that things will take place in a certain way and they occurred differently. We were gobsmacked! deceived poker player

Either we believe him, fold, and this mistake cost a lot of chips, or we call to see if he bluffed but one pair is quite a weak holding to wager all our chips with.

An example of Deception in Online Holdem Poker

Another example will shed more light on the art of avoiding deception. In an online Texas Hold'em tournament played at PokerStars, it is the end of the early stage and the hero sits in the hijack. He looks at his hole cards and sees K♣T♣. Not very exciting but he decides to limp as his stack is getting low and he needs some action. Everyone folds except the two blinds.

9♠3J is the flop and everyone checks. Q♠ comes next offering the nuts straight to hero. After both blinds checking, hero bets 2/3 of the pot and is called by the small blind. The river is K. The small blind insta-checks.

What is the best move in this spot? A flush has hit the river and the hero does not have the nuts anymore. The key here is that the villain checked at the speed of light when the king of heart was exposed. Hero bets 180 chips as he has a very strong hand and gets min-check-raised instantaneously by the small blind. Hero calls to be shown 52 for a flush of hearts!

This was a perfect example of leak #10, falling to deception. If your antennas get alerted by suspicious behavior like this insta-check, it is better to just check here. If you bet in this spot, most weaker hands will fold and you will be raised by flushes.

We propose the following rules to avoid being deceived:

  1. Never underestimate your opponent,
  2. Always stay on your guard at every step,
  3. Beware of hands where everything seems to happen predictably,
  4. Beware of opponents who like to lull their victims,
  5. Use online poker tells to preempt such situations.

Good luck at the table and remember that poker is not a picnic party!


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