when to bluff and when to fold - by Rory Monohan
When To Bluff When To Fold by Rory Monahan
Are you dealt pocket Aces on every single hand? (If you are, I will pay for your airplane ticket and entry fee for the next World Poker Tour event.) But for the rest of us, we have to do the best with our good cards and learn to win hands when we have nothing.I have played against people who say that bluffing is lying, and it is immoral. I don't even try to argue with these people, because bluffing is really the most fundamental strategy in Texas Hold 'Em. If there was no bluffing, the game would be luck, and you'd be better off playing "Rummy."
Bluffing is simple, right? All you have to do is convince the other players that you have the best hand, and get them to fold their hands. Well, now that you know that, you are ready to win thousands of dollars an hour playing Texas Hold 'Em...If ONLY it were that easy. In fact, bluffing is not even a skill It's an ART.
There are players that are very successful that never really master the art of bluffing, but you will never reach the "next level"unless you master the art of the bluff. Bluffing is the most powerful play in Texas Hold 'Em. It will give you complete control over the game, and allow you to win even when you catch bad cards. No matter who you are, or how talented and successful you are, you can strengthen your ability to bluff.
In Texas Hold 'Em, there are 5 Cardinal Rules of bluffing. If you follow these rules, you will see an immediate increase in your success in playing Texas Hold 'Em poker.
Cardinal Rule Of Bluffing No. 1
Calls and small raises are for wimps
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have played hands where some amateur called me down the line and when he turned over scraps told me he was "bluffing."Of course, I didn't tell him that he was wasting his money right away, instead I let him lose the rest of his chips to me, and then I told him the truth. If you are someone who always seems to get caught on your bluffs, chances are that you simply don't bet or raise enough to make any difference. Think about it, if you have a lot of chips committed to a pot, are you going to fold to a tiny raise? Of course not, so if you don't raise enough, you are going to get called, and your are going to lose your bankroll.
Cardinal Rule Of Bluffing #2
Never Bluff The Short Stack
When you are playing against a player who is on the short stack of the table, it is probably a good idea to avoid bluffing them. A player on the short stack is usually going to be a little more desperate, and much more likely to call you down the line, or re-raise you.There are some cases where this might not be true. If a player is short-stacked because people were able to buy pots from him, and you miss a draw or find yourself in a bad situation, you might want to bluff yourself out. However, as a general rule, you don't want to bluff the short-stacked player at your table.
Cardinal Rule Of Bluffing #3
Be Wary Of Bluffing Bad Players
Many times, you are going to find that bad players will call you all the way down even through you bluffed well, and they have only marginal hands. I have seen skilled, experienced players go broke trying to bluff some run-of-the-mill player with a pair of two's. The general rule of thumb is this... a bad player is usually more likely to call a bluff than a good player, so you should only bluff poor players when you have to.
Cardinal Rule Of Bluffing #4
Know The Bluffs
Bluffing takes many forms, and understanding and taking advantage of these forms will allow you to increase your ability to play Texas Hold 'Em significantly.
These forms of bluffing include:-
Stone Cold Bluff - when a player places a huge bet on nothing. This requires icy blood, but if you are able to pull it off, it can tear apart a player and put them on tilt. If you get caught on a stone-cold bluff, you are in big trouble. It means that another player at the table has a very good hand. To avoid getting called on a stone-cold bluff, make sure that you are in the correct position (the last person to act) and that there hasn't been any serious action before you (big bets or raises). Ideally, everyone before you would check, which would tell you that there are no strong hands in play. -
Semi-Bluff - when a player has a marginal hand or is on a draw. If someone has K-Q-J-10 of spades, and goes "all-in" they are on a semi-bluff. While the hand has the potential to be great, when they place the bet, it is nothing. If you think that someone is semi-bluffing, a re-raise will often force someone on a draw to fold their hand. If they call, watch out for cards that could complete a flush or a straight.
Representing The Flop - I played people who "knew" they had a better hand, but still folded away their money away because I "represented the flop." This is a very important skill to master, because this will work against players of all skill levels. The key to this is to bet enough to scare out most of the players before the flop, but little enough to let people think that you need to catch a card. Then when the flop comes, bet like they were the best cards that could have be dealt. If the flop is 2-2-7, your goal is to convince the other player that you were holding a pair of 7's... or better yet, 2's.
Cardinal Rule Of Bluffing #5
Mix Up Your Style
Bluffing is not something that can be set in stone. There are infinite combinations of personalities, cards, situations, and playing styles. So, never get caught up in any single bluffing style. There are a lot of ways that you can use bluffing to your advantage, for example, if you start mixing up your bluffing from time to time you can play "mind games" with your opponents. This can be a powerful advantage, because when your opponents cannot get a good read on you, you gain control of the game, and you gain an advantage over everyone at the table.If you follow the same bluffing style all night, your opponents will catch on, and sooner or later, you are going to get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
FOLDING - THE HEART OF POKER
I suppose, I should admit that I am mistaken, bluffing is NOT the most important skill in Texas Hold 'Em - FOLDING is the most important skill in Texas Hold 'Em. If you don't know when to lay your cards down, you are destined for a career of bad beats, lost hands, and frustration about your lost money.The key to learning to fold is to leave your emotions at the door.
The reason that most people get burned is they start thinking, "Well, I already have so much money in this pot, I should just call, even though I know I am beat." NEVER, ever take this mentality. The second you feel that you are going to lose a hand, fold. You don't prove anything by throwing away your money. The only thing you prove is that you don't know anything about poker, and apparently, you don't like your money.
There is, however one exception to this rule. At the beginning of a game, it is always a good idea to learn how each player thinks and plays. If you are having trouble figuring out a player's tells and playing style, it is worth it to lose a couple of chips to find them. If you are reading this and thinking... "Wow, I really need to take my poker skills to the next level, and start making money with my hobby"... then you are absolutely right.