What is ‘Misdirection’?
‘Misdirection’ is the technique of distracting or confusing an opponent successfully in order to pull off some form of bluff, illusion or scam. In poker, the phrase refers to bluffing techniques used by players in order to claim the prize pot, to get other players to pay into it or to create the impression of a certain play style so that the player can take advantage of the table later.
If a poker player refers to using ‘misdirection’, they mean that they employed betting or behaviour techniques designed to mislead their opponents, creating an advantage for themselves in the process. Misdirection is essentially a bluffing technique, or a series of bluffing methods, which are designed to create a certain impression which is different from the reality.
In poker, having the best cards is just one way of claiming the pot. Players can also use clever bluffing strategies to confuse, intimidate or influence other players into acting a certain way. Common bluffs include betting high to create the impression of a strong hand, and betting low as though the hand is weaker than it really is. These moves are designed to get players to fold, or to get them to bet at a higher rate.
Misdirection is a little more complicated – it involves a long term bluffing strategy. To misdirect the minds of their opponents, a player can act a certain way during the first few hands. For example, they might give the impression of a new and inexperienced player, making mistakes or betting too high on bad hands. This can cause the table to relax, feeling they face no real challenge. The player can then step up their game and use their skill to fool the table into betting high and losing the pot.