Basically, a poker ploy is a maneuver or strategy that a player utilizes to gain the advantage, and/or to win the pot. These poker ploys are techniques that you yourself can use to obtain information, and others may use against you to try and trick you.
For example, if you notice a player reach for a bet, then almost second guess himself by looking down at his hand again, but still fires out, you can almost always assume he is bluffing. One poker ploy you can use to exploit this is to reach for your chips as he is betting to make it seem like you are going to call. If you do this, you may make him look back at his hand, which is a sure sign of weakness. As Caro says, “If a player bets then looks back at his hand as you reach for your chips, he’s probably bluffing.”
Reaching for the Pot
This is something that you won’t see at a casino, but you could look for it at your home game where the players reach for their own pots themselves. Remember, a ploy is an act that a player feels they must do to in order to get you to either call or fold. There can be an instance where similar poker ploys or actions may look exactly the same, but are actually quite different, intended to lead to different results. If you notice someone bet, wait patiently, then reach for the pot when his opponent appears like he is going to fold, he wants a call. Now, if you were to see this person reach for the pot just as it looks like the other is going to call, he most likely wants him to change his mind and fold. In these two situations, it is the timing that is everything. They may look like the same ploy, but they mean entirely two different things.
This is a situation that Caro likes to use on his opponents, in a form of manipulation. If you are playing a game, anything from hold’em to stud, and someone is taking the lead on every street, it will be very staggering to them if you all of sudden take the lead away. For example, if you check/call the flop, and turn, then lead out on the river, you suddenly reversed the action of what is expected to happen on that street. Now depending on the card that fell, that can help you determine what this player may have. If the card seems harmless, you can expect them to almost never be bluffing because players like to bluff cards that look scary.
If you were to use this yourself, depending on how your opponent reacts should affect how you react as well. If you suddenly take the lead and he sits back looking like he has a tough decision, he probably does. If you are strong, Caro recommends that you act jittery or nervous, trying to trigger his calling reflex. Whereas if you are bluffing, don’t move and just sit there calmly.
Verifying the Bluff
Here is a ploy that was mentioned above that can be very successful. You can verify the strength of your opponents hand by faking the call. If he is going to bet, and you put your hands on your chips as if you are going to instantly call as well, depending on how your opponent reacts to this will clue you in on what you should do. If he stops for a moment and looks back at his hand, he is almost always bluffing. However, if he rushes his bet in or it doesn’t affect him, he probably wants a call and you can throw your hand away. Timing is very important here, you need to reach for your chips just as you opponent starts the betting motion then watch to see what he does.
Wear a Visor or Hat
Here is a ploy where you are basically faking that you aren’t paying any attention to the table. Many professionals say you should wear a visor and position it so that it looks like you are not looking at a player, when in fact you really are. This is one of the reasons that sunglasses became so popular in the poker rooms as well. Also, Caro says he likes to fake as if he is very tired and not paying any attention by putting his hands over his face and lowering his head. It looks as if he isn’t paying any attention, however he is actually watching everything very closely. If a player thinks you aren’t paying attention to the action, he probably will rate you as a bad or weak player, and play accordingly against you.