How Can you Use Poker Psychology to your backgammon game?
Any experienced poker player understands the importance of determining weaknesses in an opponent’s game and acting accordingly. For example, suppose an opponent virtually never bluffs. Naturally you will only call his bets when you have a solid hand of your own which you expect may beat his legitimate hand. If you can’t beat a legitimate hand, you fold. That is easy and it is the same as in Backgammon game.
What is more difficult is to make this opponent even less likely to bluff against you, since if he does decide to bluff against you his bluff will almost surely succeed.
How can you do this? By appearing to be a player who is prone to call his bets, even though the opposite is true. Bet aggressively against this player early in the hand, showing strength. Decide in advance what you will do if he bets or raises.
If you decide to call or raise yourself, do so quickly and confidently as if this were your automatic action. If you decide to fold, hem and haw a lot and then fold reluctantly even if your hand is so weak that you were never even considering calling. Make it look like you wanted to call. By portraying this image to him he will think that he can never run you out of a pot, so he may entirely give up bluffing against you, which is exactly what you want. This strategy is the same as backgammon strategy no matter if the backgammon rules are different.
By contrast, suppose an opponent tends to bluff too much. Naturally you will call or raise this opponent on any reasonable excuse. In addition, you would like to persuade him to bluff against you even more often, so when you do call him you will have a better chance of success. Show relative weakness early in the hand, often just calling when normally a raise would be justified.
Once again, decide in advance what you will do if he bets or raises- decide your backgammon or poker strategy early in the game. If you decide to fold, do so immediately making it appear that you can be pushed out of a pot easily. If you decide to call, make it look like a tough call — that you were on the verge of folding. Since you will have to show your hand if you call, you can’t overdo this or he will catch on. If the call is obvious make it quickly, but if it might look like a close decision (even if in your mind the call is clear against this player) make it a struggle.
The same tactics are applicable in your backgammon game and its backgammon strategy. You don’t have the unknown of the cards, of course, since everything is in the open. What is not known is your state of mind. If you are playing a player who is slow with the cube, you want to do everything you can to make him even slower to double so he will be missing some good doubles. Plan in advance whether or not you are going to take. You can do this without him realizing it by thinking about your cube decision when making your play the previous roll.
It will look like you are thinking about your move, when in reality you are thinking about what you will do if you are doubled. When he does double, if you have decided to accept snap up the cube like it is easiest take in the world, even if it is a truly difficult decision. If you think the decision is a tossup, lean towards taking. If you have decided to pass, study the position for a while before passing.
Of course if the pass is obvious to the world then you might as well pass quickly, so he won’t know what you are doing — he will believe that you have a problem when you do hesitate. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you will take more frequently than you actually will, so he will double even slower. That is an important backgammon game or Poker game strategy.
Conversely, suppose your opponent tends to double too early. You want to induce him to double even earlier against you. Once again, plan in advance what you will do when doubled. If you have decided to pass, then pass like a shot. If you have decided to take, then unless it is a super-obvious take think a while before accepting the double. Your goal is to make him think that you almost passed, so next time when he is considering one of his early doubles he will believe that you might pass the double. This is exactly like convincing your poker opponent that you might fold one of his bluffs as in a backgammon game.
If you have a timid opponent at the poker table who folds a lot, it is profitable to bluff him. Naturally you want to have him fold even more than usual against you, so your bluffs will have a greater chance of being successful. For this player you want to convey the message that you are an upstanding citizen who always has his bets. Play solid cards, and avoid marginal actions. In particular, make sure you don’t get caught bluffing somebody else. If you portray the proper image, this player will always fold when you bet unless he has a very good hand.
On the other hand, suppose you are playing against a player who calls almost anything. Naturally it is foolish to try to bluff against this player. However, you want to portray the image that you are a wild man who tries a lot of tricky things, so he will be even more inclined to call — which is what you want since when you bet against this player you will have the goods.
Try bluffing other players, and don’t worry about being caught occasionally. Even against this player you might make a semi-bluff on a come hand, even though you know that he will call and you would prefer not to have put the money in the pot with no chance of winning outright. Whether or not you make your hand he will get the idea that you are aggressive, and will tend to call even more than normal for him.
The same themes apply in backgammon game when you are considering doubling. If your opponent backgammon strategy has a tendency to pass doubles, then you double earlier than you normally would — who knows, he might pass. When you do turn the cube, do so in a manner which indicates that you feel you have a solid double whether you do or not. This may shake his confidence in his judgment and cause him to pass when he has a solid take. At the start of a long session or match in backgammon game it is often a good idea to toss out a marginal double just to get his reaction. This will help with future decisions with your backgammon game…
If you judge your opponent in the backgammon game to be a taker, naturally you hold off doubling marginal positions. You can wait a roll to see if your position improves, and he will still probably take even if he has a proper pass. Against this opponent you double reluctantly, making it appear that you are not sure you have a double. This will induce him to take even more freely than he normally would.
These examples illustrate how winning poker tactics can be carried to the backgammon game table. Even though the position is known to both players, as opposed to hands being hidden in poker, the same types of backgammon strategies at your backgammon game are successful. It isn’t only the cards one holds or the position on backgammon game board which is important. Your opponent’s thinking and his perception of you are what really matters.
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