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Writing About Poker – Know Your Opponents’ Tells


While poker does involve some element of chance, there is also a lot of skill involved when betting. That is why it is important to know your opponents’ tells. These are unconscious habits that reveal information about their cards. They can include eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures.

After the first betting interval ends, the players show their hands face up on the table. The best hand wins the pot. If no one has a pair or better, the highest card breaks the tie.

If a player wants to stay in the pot after raising, they must raise at least as much as the last player to do so. This equalization method keeps the stakes high and prevents a player from winning more than they invested.

As a writer, you should focus most of your description on the reactions of the characters. Who flinched, who smiled? What did they do to try and get the better of their opponent? These are the elements that will drive your plot conflict and make your story interesting.

Once you’ve decided on the focus of your story, start keeping a file of poker hands that are relevant to it. This will help you to paint pictures in the reader’s head and will keep them engaged with your story. Then, when you write, you can draw on these hands for examples. This will make your story more authentic. And it will give your readers a good idea of what kind of hands are possible in the game.