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Poker Guy: Daniel Negreanu offers lesson in poker psychology

NOT TO SOUND like a policeman, but anything you say at the table can and will be used against you by a championship pro such as Daniel Negreanu.

NOT TO SOUND like a policeman, but anything you say at the table can and will be used against you by a championship pro such as Daniel Negreanu.

You might not even realize you're giving away information, but top players recognize a psychological advantage when they hear it.

With blinds at $100-$200 at the 2010 $25,000-buy-in World Poker Tour Championship at Bellagio, action folded to the small blind, who raised to $600. In the big blind, Negreanu reraised to $2,000. This is the same preflop betting from an earlier hand when Negreanu held K-5 suited and then made a big river call to beat the same opponent out of a pot. Now, with pocket 8s, Negreanu was again reraising to $2,000.

"He said, 'I knew you were going to do that,' " Negreanu said. "Just by that comment, he thinks I'm just trying to outplay him, so it allows me some more leeway to value bet weaker hands against him because I know he's going to call me thin.

"In some spots, you want to be careful and not bet, but with him, knowing he's going to call me without very much, now I know I have him in a good position mentally."

The small blind called, and the flop came 10-10-7 with two hearts. The small blind checked. Negreanu bet $2,800.

"He probably doesn't have a 10 if two 10s come of the flop," said Negreanu, who has won four World Series of Poker bracelets and two WPT titles. "If your hand was the best before a 10-10-7 flop, it's probably the best right now. He called $2,800. It tells me he's calling me light. I think he would've raised if he had a big pair. It felt like a weak call, like he had ace-high or something."

The turn came the 5 of diamonds. The small blind checked. Negreanu made it $4,200.

"It was a value bet," said Negreanu, a pro from the PokerStars online site. "I think if he has ace-high, I think he'll call $4,200."

The small blind called. The river came the 2 of clubs. The small blind checked.

"I threw $10,000 out there because I feel if he has ace-high, he could put me on so many of the missed draws and could call with ace-high," Negreanu said, "and he quickly called me."

Then mucked his cards when he saw Negreanu's 8s.

"It's all about how the psychology of what's happened at the table has a major effect on how you're going to proceed in hands against the same type of players," Negreanu said. "That hand that I played against him, I might not have been so confident normally. But because I had a hand with him and knew where his head was at, it was easier to exploit that and get full value for it. If I had seen the guy for the first time, I probably wouldn't have bet the river. I probably would've just checked and hoped I could take it."

Table talk

Call thin: To call with marginal holdings.

Steve Rosenbloom is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and the author of the book "The Best Hand I Ever Played." He can be reached at