Backgammon vs. Poker
Although Backgammon and Poker are two entirely different games, any great poker or backgammon player will tell you that understanding and then acting upon your opponents weaknesses is crucial.
If your opponent never tries to feign you when playing poker (therefore never bluffs), you will probably only call when you believe you have a winning hand, trusting that your hand can still beat his strong hand. Playing against someone who plays like this is quite simple and it means that if you don’t think that you have a strong enough hand, you will fold and therefore you won’t need to try and bluff.
Trying to get your opponent to reduce the amount that he or she bluffs against you is not an easy task. If a player wants to try and feign you, they will do so as and when it pleases them, regardless of how you make your play. If you appear to be calling your opponents every bet, although this might not actually be the case, it is possible to get him to bluff. Ideally, and from early on, you should try and use aggressive betting techniques against this type of player.
You should also have some kind of pre-planned move ready based on what your opponents next move may turn out to be. Whether you have decided to just flat call or make a raise, implement your move quickly, as if instinctively. Doing so will appear as though this was your natural move anyway.
However, if you made the decision to fold your hand, don’t just throw your cards down straight away, take a couple of minute to fold and then put your cards down as if reluctant to do so, even if your hand was so rubbish to begin with that you never stood a chance of winning (even against a weak hand). Try and make it appear as though you were going to call. If you can do this, your opponent will believe that he can never aggressively push you out of a pot, which means that he could try reducing the number of times that he uses a bluff against you, which will make life a lot easier for you.
Similar tactics can also be applied in backgammon. Apart from the fact that everything is laid out on a backgammon board with nothing hidden, one of the things that is kept from your opponent is your personal thoughts. You must do everything in your power to make your opponent slower to double, especially when you are competing against someone who is slow with the cube. This can make him miss some vital doubles.
You should always predetermine whether you plan to take or not. Just by considering your cube decision when making your move on the previous roll, means that you can act without your opponent being aware of your plans. It will appears as though you are contemplating which move you should make when you are really considering which play you will make if your opponent doubles you.
When he or she does double up, making the decision to accept means that you should instantly take the cube like it was as easy as taking candy from a child, even though it may have been a difficult decision. However, if you made the decision to pass, take a minute to think about the position prior to actually passing and if you think that the decision is a coin toss, edge towards taking.
If it’s quite clear that you should pass, then you should do so quickly, which means that he won’t have any idea what you are trying to do. Your opponent is likely to think that you have some kind of problem if you are hesitating for any reason. With this in mind, you need to try and get your opponent to believe that you will actually take more often than you will actually take, thus making him double much slower.
The examples mentioned here demonstrate how certain poker tactics can also be applied to backgammon. Although your position is visible for your opponent to see in backgammon (unlike your hole cards are hidden from your opponent in poker), using similar mind-tactics can have similar success. What you can see on the board isn’t always ‘everything’. One of the most important things is to try and learn what your opponent could possibly be thinking.
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