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The 4 Main Psychological Principles That Shape Your Poker Play
2015-02-15

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2015-02-01

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How To Needle Your Opponents, Part I

THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2008-07-20, by TwoGun

I have to recant something I said in a previous Weekly Shuffle. I said "I am not a fan of trash talk." While, yes, most trash talk is lame, when done correctly, needling your opponents is simply amazing. I could go to lengths to prove how it's +EV to put someone on tilt, but the truth of the matter is that, for me, it's +EV in life because needling poker players is just plain fun.

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There are a variety of ways to needle your opponents at the table. One could probably write a book about this subject. Since I'm too lazy to write that book, I'll just make this a multi-part Weekly Shuffle series, with the Weekly Shuffle articles coming out at various times... basically, whenever I feel like writing about how to needle other poker players at the table.

For starters, one of the most important things about needling other players is that you shouldn't set out to needle certain players. Rather, let the people you set on tilt come to you. Let me explain. There's no way you can tilt the whole table (unless it's a 3-handed game or something like that). You are really only going to be able to make one or two people hate you. Instead of actively "choosing" who these players are, let them "nominate themselves."

The easiest way is to bad beat or otherwise beat someone in a pot, but that's just the luck of the draw. Without even playing a pot against an opponent, you can start tilting them by subtly berating them. Here are the types of players that are easiest to needle:

The Alpha Male

Not only is he the easiest to needle, he is the most likely to go on tilt and donk off his entire stack to you. In fact, by properly needling an alpha male at my Main Event table, I was able to double up through him (only to donk off my chips before making the money, but let's not talk about that). The best way to needle the alpha male is become the alpha male at the table. How do you do this? For starters, hit on every decent-looking woman at or near the table. The alpha male will not appreciate how you are getting the attention of the females instead of him. If there are no women around the table, talk about hookers or women you have dated in the past.

Often, in the live Vegas tournaments, the alpha males will have a female masseuese massaging them at the table. ALWAYS hit on the masseuse. This is how I tilted the guy I mentioned before into giving me his stack. If you are not good at hitting on women, take a course, read up, or do whatever it takes to improve your game a little. But the clearest route to tilting the alpha male is to make him feel like the beta male.

Whiners

About 1 of every 20 poker players is a serial whiner. You know the type. It's the person who cries about a bad beat or gets upset that some fishy player played A5 offsuit from mid-position. These players often attempt to talk trash, but they're so bad at it they just came across as whiners.

Whiners are easily set on tilt by simply calling them out as a whiner. As soon as one starts crying about a hand, immediately mock them by throwing a fit at a table or literally saying "wahhh wahhh wahhh." Then, go on to suggest that all of his whining is the reason he doesn't get laid very often. If he counters that he has a girlfriend or a wife, make sure to imply that she's probably the only woman in the world that would ever sleep with him.

Fan Boys

When a player is wearing a hat or shirt of a sports team, they might as well be wearing a target on their back. The easiest and best way to needle a sports fan is to talk about how much money you have made betting against that person's favorite team. Talk about how so many of that teams' fans (which would include your opponent) bet on them that it messes up the lines and makes them an excellent team to fade. When possible, quote games and exact amounts of money you have won betting against the fan boy's team.

That's it for this installment of trash talking tips. Stay tuned for future tips on the art of needling.

The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.

 


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