Auctioneers' Deborah Weidenhamer recommends that first-timers make sure to speak up and "bid loud and bid large." There are sometimes thousands of people in an auction audience, so the subtle-wink strategy isn't the most effective one.
Then there's the psychological side of auctions. Think about it: You've had a chance to check out the merchandise before the auction. Say it's a dollhouse that you just know your kid would swoon over. Now you're emotionally invested. And so are two other families eyeing the dollhouse.
Weidenhamer advises, "A lot of times at an auction you're going to have people that try to stare you down or intimidate you from bidding. So just don't get intimidated, just keep on bidding." That means that you'll need to block out any bad vibes and focus on the bidding. Or you could develop your own repertoire of intimidating body language -- crossed arms, bowed chest and a mean stink eye of your own. Still, this strategy can't protect you from the Winner's Curse.