Poker is a game of personalities. There's a lot of psychology involved. So much, in fact, that many people are uncomfortable with it. Always, it is the players who are able to read other people, assess their strengths and exploit their weaknesses who succeed in poker. In poker, it is not really the hands that count, but the players who hold them. You play the player, not the cards.

Here are some things you can do with the “human” element in the game of poker  to improve your chances of winning.

Poker action moves from right to left. It is therefore advantageous for you to make friends with the player on your left side. If this player is anything less than a complete professional, they will be inclined to raise you less. They may also respect your bets more. Soft playing may be unethical, but if you can get it out of somebody, why not?

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Speaking of slow playing, a word must be said about gender differences. A lot of men tend to soft play against a woman at the US online poker table. Others take the opposite direction and try to bully a woman more than they would other men, just because she is a woman. If you are a woman, do not be shy about taking advantage of it either way. Use whatever works for you. If you think a man is a sucker for a woman or just mister nice guy, good for you. That is one less serious opponent you have to worry about. Likewise, if a man is picking on you for a fight, use it to lure them into a trap when you are dealt a monster.

It is the same if you are a man playing against a woman. It is often said that average women play tighter poker than average men. Women tend to be more predictably cautious. This makes them “better” players in the sense that they gamble less with their money. If you are a man and find such a predictable woman, you are free to use your knowledge to bully her out of the pot. This may sound mean to some guys and it is up to you to be rough or to soft play. But if you are playing poker for money, you have to put emotions aside and be a cutthroat competitor.

Note that the male and female classes are not the only ones you can take advantage of. You can manipulate another player's youth and inexperience, for example. You can play them based on how much money they have. This happens a lot in high-stakes games. If you sense they have a big ego, you know they can go on tilt once they suffer a humiliating bad beat. If you are a charming person, you can use that to win their trust and get them to soft play you. It's all the same thing. You use their weakness against them, whatever it is. That's poker.

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