Its a tricky subject and one that I feel is very overused by inexperienced players. Poker is NOT just a game of bluffing and going all in.
Only ever bluff against a player who is good enough to realise that you are representing something strong otherwise he might just call you with that pair of threes and ruin you!
Hot Tip: When you do bluff, try to remember exactly how you did it, so that you can do the same when holding the nuts. This will help disguise your actions from giving away tells about when you have a good hand or a crap one.
When you are on the receiving end of a large bet on the river, do you simply say “I came to gamble…I call” OR do you sit there and try to work through the hand and see if their bet makes sense? I know that most of you will do the latter.
Question: Would you be more likely to call with just top pair if the hand you’ve put them on simply didn’t fit their betting pattern? I know I would. Therefore when YOU are the one ramming in that large bet on the river you have to presume that your opponent is thinking the same thing. It is very important to bet accordingly to the hand that you are representing.
A tight player “Dave” limps in M/LP. Your table image is perceived to be bluffing at a few pots yourself. You flat call on the button with Kh5h and the board comes down AsKc5d
He checks and you bet out just over half the pot with your two pair of Kings and fives. He only calls. The turn comes 8d.
He checks again and you bet out the pot. Dave thinks about it and then goes all in! – does that add up?
This is a tight player who doesn’t play ace rag, who knows his gap concept from his elbow and he likes to bet out when he has a hand.
If he had a hand preflop he would have raised – so that rules out AK, KK, AA, 55, 88. Dave wouldn’t have called bad odds on the flop for a hope of runner runner flush, so what could he have? Not much.
Now re-run the above and instead let’s say that he raises preflop. OK, so you wouldn’t be calling with Kh5h, but let’s assume you elect to call.
Suddenly now even if he is only bluffing at you, his bet really does add up. He could have any of the above mentioned hands and you are looking well and truly beaten. You can see the subtle difference it makes!
You should be looking for the following:
Sometimes your bet doesn’t need to add up to win the pot. Say that there are a few limpers and you are sitting on the BB with any two cards. The flop comes down 3T4r. You check as you have hit nothing but then so does everyone else. The turn is another 3.
Now you bet out and it doesn’t really matter if anyone believes you or not as they are going to have to pay to find out if you have that magic little 3 and it’s really not worth it.
Bottom line: If no-one was interested in the board when it had one 3 on it, why would they be anymore interested now when there’s two? More often than not a half pot size bet will be enough to scoop up this dismal pot. Remember that you only need to win 1 in 3 of your half-pot sized bets to break even. If you get caught then when you flip your cards you are showing that you are willing to have stabs and thus make yourself more tricky to read.
Always be aware of what your current table image is and what gear you are in – and I don’t mean the clothes you are wearing! If you have been fairly active within the last few pots, people perceptions of you will be that you are more inclined to bluff and so you might get caught more often – however if you have been sitting tighter than the nuns proverbial, then you can feel free to have a bluff and unless you are up against a monster you should be ok. Nut-shell: Always note your image from their point of view.
Think of bluffing like firing three bullets into your opponents stack. Each of the shots have to hit them square on and hurt them hard.
The first bullet is usually pre-flop where you would put in a substantial raise. With a bit of good fortune you will get an ugly-textured flop or see some tasty scare cards.
The second bullet you fire cranks up the pot and clears the table of marginal hands.
The third bullet is the hardest one to fire when bluffing, but get it right and you will succeed. This requires another large bet or raise into a player that you feel is weak enough to fold his hand to your bluff.
It really does take guts to fire the third bullet on the river but sometimes its just enough to take down a huge pot.
If you have a half pot size stab at the pot (eg $400 bet into an $800 pot), you only need to win a third of the time to get even money.
If you do end up losing, then make sure you turn your hole cards over so everyone can see you had nothing. Give that a try and youll be surprised at how much action you get next time when you are in fact holding the nuts and fire chips at the pot consistently in the same way as if you were bluffing.
You should be trying to win uncontested pots whenever possible. Even your Ace high could be in front on a crappy-looking flop. If no one has bet at the flop, take the initiative and have a pop.
Heres an interesting example:
Say you are playing suited connectors 78s and the flop comes down Q Q 2.
The chances of someone else at a 10 seat table having one of the remaining queens is about 20%. If you are on a tightish table where only two or three players see a flop, this means that the chances of someone holding trips on a paired flop are less than 4% in a heads-up pot, and not too much more in a multi-way pot. this means that the chances of you getting away with a steal in this postition is very high. People will think you have trips often, you will run into actual trips less often.
If the board pairs, then have a bet, especially in early position.
You don’t have to be that successful for bluffs to be an effective strategy. If you’re getting 10-to-1 odds from the pot, your bluff needs to work only 1 time in 11 for it to be a profitable play.
One tactic that can be used to great effect at all online poker sites game is the bluff call. Obviously, calling as a bluff does not win a hand in itself, as the opponent does not have an opportunity to fold. However, a bet or raise on the turn or river from a texas holdem online player who has previously just called can be an extremely effective bluff, as it may appear that the bluffing player was trying to get more money in the pot, something you might not expect a bluffing player to do.
The problem may come when the bluffing player is facing a strong hand, in this case an overpair. This is a bigger problem for the bluffer than if the opponent had top pair, because the bluffer can represent an overpair or top pair better kicker. If you are facing an overpair, you may need to abandon your bluff attempt.
Your guide as to whether or not your opponent has an overpair will be how aggressive he is based on the texture of the flop. If an opponent raises pre-flop, especially a tighter player from an early position, he is likely holding an ace or a pair. If the flop comes, for example, ten high, your opponent may have an overpair. A player with an overpair to the flop will often make a larger flop bet, hoping to get it all-in vs. top pair or to stop an opponent from drawing a well-hidden two pair or set on the turn or river. If you face a very large bet pre-flop and on the flop, this may not be the right time to bluff call.
Fortunately, even an overpair can be beaten. A good flop to bluff call if you suspect an overpair is one with an obvious draw, such as two of a suit. If you call the flop and the third suit comes, a raise will often get an overpair to lay down. Similarly, a flop like T 9 5 may be a flop to bluff call with the idea of betting the turn to represent a straight if a 6, J (representing 78), 7, Q (representing J8) or 8 or K (representing JQ) comes. If you are very aggressive and have a strong read on a weak opponent, you may even try to represent a higher overpair or a set with your bluff call.
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