Actions in Poker

28 Feb

Actions in Poker

If you don’t know where to find a reliable online casino, use this website Once you found a casino, you have to learn more about actions in poker. First, we must establish what an action is. There are poker actions check/call, bet, raise (including check-raise), or fold; the four simplified actions. Each one of these actions has a meaning. 

  1. Check/call – a weaker hand, a weaker stack, a nut hand trap; 
  2. Bet – a good hand, a weak opponent, searching for more info; 
  3. Raise – a better hand, a bluff, rebutting a bluff; 
  4. In the case of check-raise – trap executed, very strong, bluff, rebuffing a bluff; Fold – «I got nothing here or I don’t want to get involved here”.

You will notice that each action can convey a different message. So, just as you have to take in the context of a sentence to define words with different meanings, you have to take in the context of the player to define the initial (pre-flop) action. 

  • Solid – Favors the check/call and bet options, raises accordingly with premiums; Maniac – Favors the raise, bets, or checks/calls with ATC (any two cards); 
  • Tight – Favors the check/call and fold, bets with premiums; 
  • Amateur – uses all actions incorrectly (out of position, bets too low or high). 

Many of you are asking right now, “What about the bluff?” Now I will talk about the bluff, actually, to be more specific, the bluffer. 

  1. Solid – rarely bluffs out of position or in situations likely to get called; 
  2. Maniac – Bluffs often but can retreat to solid play when rebuffed; 
  3. Tight – rarely bluffs; 
  4. Loose – bluffs improperly (out of position, against made hands).

So, now we have three pieces of information we can use to start analyzing our hand and even more importantly, our opposition. We can use their style of play to put them on a group of hands. Then we can use their action to put them on a more specific group of hands. The final piece is to figure out whether they are representing truthfully, or trying to pull off a bluff. 

Before we move on, a little bit more about spotting the bluff. Spotting the bluff is not about the action, nor is it about the player. Sometimes, one or the other gives it away, but most often you have to take both into consideration. Every player is capable of making a bluff, but only the most skilled players execute it properly. Every action can possibly be interpreted as a bluff, but it rarely stands up to good scrutiny. And this takes us to the heart of today’s lesson, reading the hands. 

Many players refer to this as Storytelling. When telling a good story, whether it’s the truth or fictitious, everything from the beginning should lend itself to the finale. In other words, if you start off talking about two nuns walking into a diner, it shouldn’t finish with a priest and a rabbi sitting at the bar. That is unless you really were talking about a priest and a rabbi from the beginning, but mumbled incoherently so we couldn’t be sure (more on this later). So, when you are deciphering your opponents’ hand with storytelling, you have to ask yourself a few questions. 

  • Does their decision to play in this hand fit in with their style? (Do they normally fold in this position?) 
  • Does their action follow their playing style? (Have they normally been calling instead of raising from the middle seats?) 
  • Is their action an appropriate response to the action that preceded it? (Why are they the fifth caller, shouldn’t someone have something worth a raise?) 
  • Does it make sense for the information that I have? (With three raisers, why is he/she moving all-in while I have pocket Aces?) 

You should ask yourself these questions for every piece of information that comes into the hand. Every action made and every community card shown should follow one another seamlessly. If they do, we can pin our opposition down to a select few cards or hands that match up with a common strategy. If they don’t, we can put our opponent on either a bad bluff, semi-bluff, or a trap play; again pinning them down to just a few cards or hands. 

To get back to the priest and the rabbi here is one last note to help discern between the bad bluff, the semi-bluff, and the trap play. While they may appear similar by not truly telling a consistent story, the key difference is given away by what the play is meant to do. A bluff is meant to get rid of players and buy off the pot, a semi-bluff is an attempt to buy the pot while having a draw to fall back on if called, and the trap play is meant to earn more money by keeping players in (usually with checks or minimal bets). 

So, if the actions don’t add up: and the opponent is betting heavy, they are almost definitely on the bluff. And if they are betting to the pot, they probably have a draw. And if they are betting small, they are most likely on the trap and just trying to snag a few more cheques. All of this only serves to further reveal the true identity of their hand. If you find yourself at the river, you should always try to review every piece of information one last time before you make your final actions. You may not be doing it as Matt Damon did at the professors’ game in”Rounders”, but you’ll be on your way to making some Negreanu-like call-outs or Harmon-Esque reads. 

Heck, I’ll even bet that you do it some of the time now, at least partially. Think of the last time you made the call, all the while saying to yourself, “I’m going to pay to see that you have that Jack for trips, just in case my pair of Aces are good.”Or even better, that time you called to the river with top pair Tens with an Ace kicker because you just knew they were continuing to bet their Ace King, trying to represent a pocket pair. 

Now that you have read through and seen how to spot your opposition cards, and whether or not they are on the bluff, go back through it one more time. This time ask yourself if you play to represent your hands and/or bluffs appropriately. Do you bluff appropriately for your style? Or do you get called so often because you’re actually a tight player and the other players know when to call you down on the bluff? Are you making the appropriate pre-flop action only to mess up with a bad post-flop follow-up? Are you missing prime opportunities to bluff when you have correctly read that your opposition has nothing to even call a bluff with? Can you now see that you don’t necessarily have to use the phrase”all-in” with a good (or bad) bluff? (I guarantee that one will save you in a tournament at least once in the near future). 

My last piece of advice to test yourself with this new information, go through the bad beats section here (or in your own notes if you keep them), and see if you can spot where a player may have gone wrong. You may just find that some of them are less about the bad beat and more about a poorly executed play or a poorly thought decision to play. You might even run across a few reply posts from me on where it all went wrong. 

So, to wrap this up, once you put a player on a particular style, you can define what their action should look like. That action will convey their hand either by truth or by the bluff. Once the action has moved around the table and the flop comes out, you can usually pin down your opponent’s hand and evaluate your hand. You can then formulate the appropriate reaction. If play continues to the turn and river, you can further confirm your opposition’s hand and re-evaluate your position and appropriate re-action for the hand. 

I haven’t expanded upon different tells and how they relate to bluffing, I don’t want to bring that into play. I truly believe the best tells you will receive are based on a player’s actions and whether or not they make sense. Any other tells should only be used as a confirmation for the information that has been given through players’ actions. You can find a good online casino here