The late John Crawford was one of the great games players
and gamblers of all time. His best games were bridge and
backgammon, but he was also an excellent gin rummy player.
He and the legendary games expert Oswald Jacoby used to
play gin rummy against each other constantly. They were
close in ability, but there was no question Crawford had
the psychological edge. He would needle Jacoby, taunt him,
even laugh at his play, until Jacoby sometimes became so
enraged he could hardly see the cards in front of him.
Along the same lines, Los Angeles backgammon pro Gaby Horowitz
is well-known for his glib, sometimes disparaging talk during
a game, which is calculated to put his opponents on tilt.
Seven-card stud poker pro Danny Robinson is equally famous
for his nonstop patter during a hand, which is used to distract
and confuse his opponents.
These are all psychological ploys, and there are an endless
number of such ploys. Some people approve of them. Some
don't. While they have a definite place in poker, they are
not what we mean by the psychology of poker. They are psychological
devices that apply to all games or, for that matter, to
all forms of competition. Chess champion Bobby Fischer used
them in his famous match against Soviet master Boris Spassky.
Managers like Earl Weaver and Billy Martin use them on the
baseball diamond. And the late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
was notorious for using them as tactics of cold war diplomacy.