One of the most powerful weapons a poker player possesses is the ability not to read their opponents hands like a Grand Master but something we all learn at quite an early age — the power of speech. By simply talking to an opponent at the felt, both real and virtual, can give you a plethora of information about your opponent’s skill level, thought processes and their hand strength plus if you are good enough at speech play you can encourage or discourage action for yourself.
I was once the victim of some good speech play whilst playing in a live poker tournament at the Dusk Till Dawn poker club in Nottingham. I had been moved to a table at the far end of the room towards the latter part of Day 1 and had around 25-30 big blinds in my stack; so although I was not short as such I as not deep either. The table I was moved to had one player in particular who was entertaining because of his non-stop chatter and it wasn’t until he lured me in and busted me that I realised he was hatching a cunning plan all along.
You see, by chatting and being overly friendly people naturally warmed to him and therefore were less inclined to play back at him when he opened pots — people are less likely to try and steal from their friends as a general rule! But because he was friendly his questions seemed natural, especially the one where he asked me where I was from. I told him Leeds and we got chatting about how long it took to drive to the venue and other such trivial table talk. But it was not trivial because he discovered that I did not have a hotel booked and was going to drive back home to Leeds then, if I made it through to Day 2, was going to head back to Nottingham. he now knew I was going to gamble in order to either build a large stack or bust out trying to get one and pushed me around like there was no tomorrow.
Not only can you help yourself to this free information but you can also make some good friends just by talking to those around you. So the next time you play poker or are winning at blackjack have a chat to those people in the near vicinity because you may just put up a tell or make a good friend!