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Strong Means Weak and Weak Means Strong

Strong Means Weak and Weak Means Strong
by Chad Holloway of

"Strong means weak and weak means strong" is a concept discussed in Daniel Negreanu's More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players and one of the most trusted maxims in the poker world. The concept is rooted in "reverse psychology," which is defined on as: "a method of getting another person to do what one wants by pretending not to want it or to want something else or something more."

In this case, poker players tend to act strong when they want another player to fold because they actually hold a weak hand; likewise, players act weak in the hopes of inducing action when they actually hold a strong hand. Although this is a simple concept to grasp, recognizing when it's being applied can be more difficult; however, there are a number of different ways of to tell. Negreanu says there are two things to keep an eye out for: "This is another common tell that you can spot in several forms. It can be the way a player throws his chips into the pot or the tone of his voice that gives away his hand."


Talking at the poker table is always an iffy situation. Whenever a player, whether it is you or your opponent, opens their mouth, they are supplying valuable information to the entire table. It is then up to the remaining players to interpret that information and act accordingly.

When you are making a decision based upon another player's words, just remember "strong means weak and weak means strong." As Negreanu explains:

"When a player sounds dejected, saying something like, 'Well, I guess it's now or never; I might as well bet all of my chips,' that's usually a sign that he holds a powerful hand. He's trying to sound weak so he doesn't scare you off. Trust me, he'll show you a full house if you call him!"

Table talk is not the only thing at the poker table that captures the "strong means weak and weak means strong" philosophy. Negreanu talks about another situation where he routinely picks up valuable information:

"Another way to spot this tell is to watch how an opponent puts his chips into the pot. Did he forcefully throw his chips toward you, or did he gently place a stack in the pot? When a player throws his chips in an aggressive manner, he's trying to scare you. He probably has a weak hand. On the flipside, when he gently places his bet in the pot, he likely has something strong and he's inviting you into the pot, hoping that you'll call."

Aside from looking for strong and weak moves by your opponents, be sure to pay attention to your actions as well. Are you putting your chips in forcefully when you have a weak hand? Do you talk about how bad your hand is when it is actually strong? If so, you might want to make some changes, because your opponents are catching on to it. Furthermore, now that you are privy to the tricks of "strong means weak and weak means strong," you can use them to your advantage. Feel free to change things up by acting strong when you actually have a hand, oftentimes this will confuse your opponents just enough to get them to pay you off!

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