Bluff Your Way to Success
March 23, 2009
When playing any style of poker, you are certain to come across a player who is going to feed you information showing that they have a good hand, that could be facial expressions or movements when playing live games or making oversized bets online.
What good poker players have to determine is, are those actions signs of strength or signs of weakness been covered to make you believe that they are holding a better hand than they really are?
The art of bluffing is something that has developed alongside the game of poker itself, developed by players without them knowing about it.
Bluffing is a way of actively lying to opponents about the strength of your hand without actually saying a word.
Ok so lets start from the beginning on this topic as there are a number of players who are confused by the phrase ‘Bluff’ or ‘Bluffing’.
A ‘Bluff’ or ‘Bluffing’ is when a poker player places a bet or raise into a pot when they have very little chance of them winning should the hand go to a show down.
I thought i best to highlight them as online poker is riddled with a huge number of players who consistantly make bluffs within tournaments or even more profitabily on cash game tables.
Regardless of what style poker, players will often consider out smarting a player by offering a bluff bet into a pot with the hope that the bet will place doubt on their opponents, making them rethink their hand and their hand strength.
We have all experience someone feeding us a bluff, ok you might not know that some of the hands you folded on a hunch due to an oversized bet were subject to a bluff, as very often you aren’t shown the cards that are played by the bluffing player. Don’t worry about those, it could be that they really did have you beat and you made a good lay down, you will see a number of players online that think by showing you that they bluffed you out of a pot that doubles their chip stack, thinking that they are rubbing it in but the real fact is they are giving you free information on their style of play.
If a player turns a set of bluff cards over to you and you see that they didn’t even feature on the board or they are trying to hide their bottom pair behind the bigger cards on the board, just take note that the player is willing to make that move. They are willing to make large bets on smaller pairs thinking that they can out smart you.
The fact is once a bluffer, always a bluffer, so if a player makes a bluff within a game or tournament they are not just suddenly going to stop making them as they are a part of their game.
If someone feeds you a bluff and they show you that they have, then you have to take note that they are going to do it again, so seriously consider your hand and if you come up with them again think back to their past actions.
That oversized raise could be yet another bluff to make you rethink your cards.
By no means am i saying that the player is lying on every oversized bet, and i’m not saying that if they do raise call and see the hand through, but seriously consider your odds and outs before acting on the hand.
Making a Bluff
Ok we have looked over what a ‘Bluff’ is and how they are designed to work, so lets cover how you can use these to your advantage.
There are a number of factors that have to be considered when your thinking about entering a bluff, this is where a huge number of ‘Bluffers’ fail, they don’t consider all the factors before acting and placing their oversized bet into the pot resulting in a call and a huge dent to their stacks or cash balance.
What players who are going to make a bluff need to analyze is not only the number of players still within the hand but also the style of the players still in the hand.
The reasoning behind this is that if you are going to make a bluff into a pot still featuring 5 other players, the likelyhood is that your bet or raise will be called and with them calling, they are going to be possessing a stronger hand than that you are. This can lead to a great number of chips or money been offered to other players on the ‘cheap’ meaning that you know that you can’t contest them come a showdown.
The style of players left in the pot is also a major factor that needs to be looked at because if you are playing against a tight player, you are more likely to be able to enter your bluff into the pot and they are more likely to fold their hand. On the other side of this there are the players that bet aggressively and seem to hold their stack in low regrad, this will mean that they are more likely to call or even reraise you, leaving you in a position you don’t want to be in.
There are other factors that are involved in playing a successful bluff too that offer greater ‘security’ when placing a bluff into a pot, such as the size of the pot. You have to assess the otherr stacks around the table of the players that are still in the hand, you have to think that if a play has over 3/4 of their stack in the pot they are unlikely to fold out of the hand as that is effectively giving chips or money to you freely. They could just transfer the chips or money into your account which would offer the same effect as folding would. So you have to look about the table and look at the stacks. If there is a player that has placed most of their stack into the pot, you have to realise that that play at least is going to call or move all in which could result in you having to make up the rest of the chips or folding your hand.
Its advised that if you are going to enter into a pot on a bluff that you are in a late position as this gives you the opportunity to see how the other players see the community cards, if a player is in early position and is betting into the pot its not advised that you make the bluff play into the pot because the likelyhood is that they are going to have you beat, placing you in a bad position already. So if you have a hand in the pot and someone raises or places a bet in an early position do the right thing and fold.
The other major factor that bluffing players have to consider is the value of the cards already out on the community board, placing a bluff into a pot with a ‘scare’ or ‘fright’ card in would be easier to make a bluff bet/raise at. By this i mean if there is a low number of players in the hand and there is a high card surrounded by lower value cards. This will depict that you are holding the higher card, meaning that if a player doesn’t have the highest card out there, they find it harder to make the call on your bet due to the higher card offering them extra thought against their hand.
There are 2 major issues that ‘bluffers’ have to avoid with a great distance.
Check Raise Players - These are the players who check the play around to you then once you make your play they instantly call or raise your bet. This shows that they have a hand that has a large amount of strength as they are willing to let you make the play first and then they are increasing the pot by making their own play. If you get caught up with someone like this its time to accept that the bluff didn’t work and time to fold. Continuing with the bluff at this point is very dangerous as they have a strong hand and 99% of the time they are going to see the hand through whcih could cost you a share of your stack or your life in a tournament.
Bluffing Over and Over Again – Making a bluff works because players don’t know how strong your hand is, don’t get caught up in the moment and the thrill of winning a bluffed hand as making constant bluffs will result in your opponents getting wise and noticing that your are either hitting a hot streak or you are making bluffs. This increases the possibility of been called by players. Only play bluffs on hands that you have analyized and all factors are working for you, playing bluffs on any hands you don’t will result in a sudden loss of stack.
Ok we have covered how you can play a bluff to win hands that in other instances you would have folded, missing out on some earning potential.
What some players are unaware of is that there are actually 2 types of bluffing.
There is ‘Bluffing’ which we coovered above and there is ‘Semi Bluffing’.
Semi Bluffing is a form of bluffing with a huge difference.
Bluffing with a semi bluff means that you are betting into a pot that you are not currently winning but you still have the chance to make a card to power your hand to become the ‘nuts’.
Betting like this is often associate with flushes and straights, where players make the play to signal that they have already hit the straight or flush, scaring players out of a pot.
This style of bluffing offers a better success rate as this style offers a greater amount of fear for other players, with a flush and straight beating any high pair or trips.
This is therefore seen as the preferred method of a lot of poker players, including some huge professional names.
General Rules For Bluffing
- Bluffing in a live game situation is totally different to bluffing in a virtual environment due to the number of tells that are given off when playing in a live situation
- If a bluff fails on the first attempt, its time to call it a day on that hand and let a few hands pass before trying to bluff again
- If your are making a bluff you have to make a large bet or raise as this shows strength, a small bet would encourage players to call or re-raise
- Bluffing should be used along with other methods of playing, bluffing alone will not win you any tournament situations
- If your going to bluff, DO NOT show your hand as this shows all others at the table that your open to making bluffs and will increase your chances of been called
- Calling a bluff is easier for players that play on the internet as they don’t physically have the stack in front of them, just a number
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- How To Play Pocket 8’s
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