Using NLP Techniques Strategically in the real World – Anchors

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I went to play poker in my local casino the other night and had the opportunity to try out a specific NLP Technique I had read about in Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker!

Using NLP Anchoring to Win at Poker

Before all you NLPers out there start looking for this new super NLP TrainerDoyle Brunson is a poker player and has written up anchoring in his book without knowing anything about NLP. I am putting the NLP jargon on something he does.

NLP Poker

For those of you that don’t play poker stay with this example because it deconstructs a specific process to set an anchor in a live environment. Once you understand the process you will easily find other ways of using these principles.

Strategic Thinking with NLP Persuasion Techniques

One of the things that is worth considering is how can you manoeuvre a situation so that you don’t need to use your techniques in the first place. When playing poker I very deliberately set out to create an image of being a tight aggressive player. For those of you that don’t play poker this is the sort of player that does not play very many hands, but when he does they are played with very aggressive bets. I do this for a reason.

If the players think I only play strong hands and I play them very strongly it is easy to bluff them in the later stages of the game. I use this image when the conditions are right to steal the pot by placing a big bet and watching everyone fold to me. Unfortunately this only works for as long as I can keep the image. Eventually in a game someone will call my bluff, I will have to show people my hand and they will realise that I am bluffing. From that point people tend to think that I am bluffing and don’t respect my bets anymore. I expect this to happen at some point of a game and usually change the way I play when I have been found out.

For all of you that are interested in persuasion tactics consider the issue here. I am deliberately setting out to create an image where my actions are not going to be challenged. Think about how many different ways you can apply this for yourself just by repeating a certain action in a particular what a few times people will start to assume this is how the world works. And for those of you that know some NLP, yes, this is an anchor…but it is not the one I want to talk about specifically.

Creativity from Disaster

In this particular game disaster struck and I got found out very early on in the game completely destroying my attempt at creating the table image I wanted. Normally this would be a major challenge for me and I would find it very difficult to get back in the game. On this occasion I suddenly remembered some of the things I had read from Doyle Brunson.

I had put a large bet in as normal. When another player called me and I knew the game was up and I had been caught I stretched in a big and obvious manner. When I turned over my cards and everyone saw I had been bluffing I stretched again. Here is why.

My hope was that on an unconscious level I was making an association in the other player’s heads that when I stretch I am bluffing. I made the gesture twice. Once when I knew I was going to be found out and again when it was immediately obvious to everyone that I had been bluffing. For those of you that like the jargon, this is me setting the anchor.

At this stage I was left with very few chips and no option but to wait for strong cards to play with. Usually when this happens to a player everyone knows that you are waiting for good cards so when you bet they automatically fold and you don’t win many chips back.

A short while later I got my good cards. I put in a bet and stretched. Normally in this situation everyone would assume I had good cards and would have folded to me. Three people called me. The next set of cards came down and I discovered I had an unbeatable hand. I stretched again and all three started a frenzy of placing bets raising each other with no regard to me at all. I put all my chips in and stretched again. This time one person called me and the others folded. I won the hand and doubled up my money.

Presuppositions in NLP

One of the presuppositions in NLP is that the person with the most flexibility has control over the system. Twice more I stretched with good cards and noticed people wanting to bet against me…obviously thinking I was bluffing. But I went on to win the hand each time. On the third occasion I noticed that the other players folded instead of playing against me when I stretched.

I switched…the next time I stretched I had poor cards and was bluffing. All the other players folded. It was now the middle stages of the game, I had a healthy chip stack and I had my table image back. The association I had created an association for the other players that when I stretched I had good cards. This allowed me to control the betting more easily whenever I was in a hand.

NLP Techniques and Applications

So this is an Anchoring Example specifically for poker, you will find other examples of anchoring in other contexts throughout the NLP Techniques section of this website. But here are a few basic variations on a theme that you might want to consider.

As a manager when someone in your team has done a good job make a grand thank you that makes them feel really good. As part of this you might use some unique stimulus such as a tone of voice. When you want to get that person to do something for you might thank them in advance (assumptive close) and use the same tone of voice. This should give them the effect of feeling good about something they are about to do for you.

If you deal with prospects and customers and they are telling you their problems and they are feeling bad nod your head with the rhythm of their speech. When you tell them about your competitors use the same rhythm and nod your head the same way.

If you are a trainer talk to your delegates about the good experiences they have had in training from where you normally sit or stand to deliver your material. Move to another spot where you don’t normally stand and talk to them about bad experiences. Now you can start controlling the emotions of the group. When they are going the wrong direction or doing things that you rather they didn’t start moving towards the bad spot. As they start to do things well start moving towards the feel good spot.

Obviously there is a little more to Anchoring Techniques that just this, but hopefully this will have sparked a few thoughts of how you can use anchors in everyday situations.

Finally, there is one thing I have misrepresented in this article. The anchor certainly worked the way I described and it was not a stretch. I am not about to tell you my real anchor…I might be facing you across a poker table one day ;-p

If you would like to learn more about how to use hypnotic persuasion techniques in a real world context you can click through and find out more here:

The Lancaster Persuasion Lecture Deconstructed


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