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If you’ve ever come up against Daniel Negreanu, it might feel like he is reading your mind.
The poker legend is one of the game’s most notorious characters and has gained a reputation for being arguably the best in the business when it comes to calling his opponent’s cards.
The secret? Taking an NFL-style approach to analysing your opponents, their tendencies – and then using them to your advantage.
Negreanu is playing the World Series of Poker online with GGPoker this summer in the hope of winning a seventh bracelet.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, we asked whether we could take a step inside one of poker’s greatest minds and learn how he reads his opponents…
Before tells, look at the betting patterns
“The first thing is that you focus on the fundamentals and the betting patterns,” Negreanu said.
“If they raise from their position, what hands do they do that with? If you imagine, I start with a tree. Players can be dealt any possible hands. But now the fact that he has raised, it eliminates a whole bunch, so you’re down to this.
“Then now, he’s called a re-raise, so it eliminates a load more. So now he has check-raised on this flop, which breaks it down even more. Then you get down to only two or three hands that it makes sense for this player to have. That would be step one.
“Step two then is to gauge on their physical appearance and how confident they look. The more genuinely confident they look in that spot, the more likely they are to have a hand that they feel strongly about.
“Whereas, if they don’t, they are not bringing attention to themselves and they are nervous, that lends itself to possibly being a bluff more.
“So then you combine the two and go: you have it, I have always broken down that you have one of these three hands, this is the hand I think you have, you have King-Nine. That’s how it works.”
So what physical tells are you looking for?
“Eyes, nose, pulse, fingers, also posture. Body posture is a pretty big one. You can tell when people are bluffing, they are often a lot more tense.
“You can see that in their fingers, you can see that in their arms, even in the way that they sit. Posture would be a big one.
“You are basically looking for anything that is unique or different to whatever is considered their standard.
“So if people have a standard pose, you look for variations of that pose. If you notice he keeps his hands on his head and looks down, well let’s see what he has here. If he was weak, I would go and see if I can find some video where he has done that in the past.”
Don’t be afraid to do your research
“I would then do a bit like what an NFL coach would do. I would dissect it and say, he did this 10 times, you have 10 on record. Eight times they were weak, two times they were strong.
“With really good players, you don’t have a foolproof method; it’s not like the movie Rounders where every time someone is bluffing they are eating the Oreo cookies.
“You have to look to tendencies. They are not going to be right 100 per cent of the time. If you notice the guy putting his hand on his head is weak 80 per cent of the time, that could be something you could use something later in the hand.”
- Daniel Negreanu is an ambassador of GGPoker. To start playing poker online, check out GGPoker today.
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