Concepts: Deception (Overview)

Introduction:

Deception is a concept for advanced players.

  • Are you able to interpret your hand correctly?
  • Do you have a feeling for when you're the favourite and when you're the underdog?
  • Have you learned to invest in profitable situations?
  • Do you keep the cost of unfavourable situations or those that are impossible to estimate as low as possible?

Then it's time to loosen up your game. This is exactly what deception does. 

  • Deception: In the context of poker, deception stands for the representation of a situation different to (often the opposite of) the one in which the player currently finds him/herself.

Explanation:

If you play deceptively it means that you act in a way that is opposed to your spontaneous feeling for that situation.

  • You bet although you do NOT believe that you have the best hand.
  • You play passively (at first) ALTHOUGH you believe that you have the best hand.

Deceptive moves enable you to carry out this apparent contradiction in a controlled fashion. The four basic techniques of deception are:

Motive:

You make a profit by playing straightforward poker. Technical superiority and discipline are enough to beat lots of tables. In the course of time, however, you will notice two developments.

Your reward-risk ratio will worsen. More and more opponents will respect your disciplined game, thus they play more carefully and pay less willingly. This means that when you bet, opponents with weak or mediocre hands will fold. You will win small pots but run the risk of losing big ones because only opponents with strong hands will stay in the game.

You will see fewer showdowns.This is because as soon as you check, you invite opponents to bet - irrespective of their hands. Then you fold as expected and lose many pots in which all the players actually had weak hands.

Both tendencies indicate that your game needs some variation.

Execution:

Deceptive moves use both of these unfavourable tendencies to your direct advantage and achieve further, indirect goals.

  • When you have a good hand you don't necessarily bet but mix up your game.
  • From now on, if you're in position you will use Slow Play. from time to time.
  • If you are out of position, Check-raise. The direct result will be bigger winnings. Since pretending to have a weak hand  encourage your opponents more to bet more often.The indirect result is that your opponents won't bet automatically when you show "weakness". Your checks are now aggressive checks.

Example 1:

Just calling pre-flop with AA in the big blind is a clear Slow Play. You have successfully disguised the strenght of your hand. The best-possible hand thus represents a considerably weaker one. The subsequent check on the flop is a second sign of weakness and aims at a continuation bet by the pre-flop aggressor.This is what happens.The subsequent raise completes the Check-raise and wins the pot immediately. Both deceptive moves contributed to the opponent betting an additional 6 BB on a hand that really didn't have a reasonable chance.

  • When you have a weak hand you will no longer check/fold as a matter of course but vary your game. You intersperse bluffs and semi-bluffs. As a direct result you will win some vacant pots, i.e. pots where none of the players held a good hand. As an indirect result, these variants raise the frequency of your game, which makes your opponents more willing to pay you off when you have a good hand. If you lose additional chips because of a failed bluff then it does at least have the positive side-effect of showing everybody that you do in fact bluff. You can then concentrate on your good hands for a while and be sure of getting paid.

Example 2:

The pre-flop re-raise is the deceptive response to the aggressor's suspected blind steal. A clear bluff, which fails to achieve its direct goal because it is called by the opponent.The flop brings us a flush draw. The check raise is a semi-bluff that maintains uncalled and it immedately wins the pot. The external effect of the pre-flop re-raise and the check raise on the flop is that our opponent thinks we have a very strong hand. This appears to conceal the real quality of our hand.

Summary:

  • Deception is another opportunity to generate chips.
  • As long as your good hands are getting paid off, there is no need for pretences.
  • If your opponents are folding too often, (semi-)bluff.
  • If every check you make is interpreted as a sign of weakness, slow play your hands and check-raise.
  • Do not make any moves against loose, passive players (classic calling stations)! They pay your bets anyway but they don't bring any active money into the pot.
  • The fine art of a good deceptive play is to include your own image, the opponents and the overall situation when it comes to: mainstream or move?

Deception is a profitable variant in due time, but what you're doing here must always be clear: you push weak hands or risk good ones. Neither of these can endure as a fundamental strategy! But it is only due to deception that a game becomes a real game of poker.The feeling for when one has to take a different approach is what characterizes a really good player.