BLUFFS! Who, When How to
Here's a poker topic not often discussed BLUFFS.
1- What is considered to be a Bluff?
2 - When is it best to Bluff?
3- How do you know who to bluff?
4- Why Bluff at all?
Firstly; without bluffs poker wouldn't be what it is today as bluffing is the ultimate deception of any poker hand. The one being bluffed will be very angry that he was deceived especially if he had a winning hand. The one doing the bluffing will feel excited and in most cases end up overly confident about future hands.
The aim of poker to start with is to WIN, how you do that is entirely up to you no matter what other players think about your plays. Poker it's self is a game of deception and without bluffs it would be a boring game.
Many see bluffing differently as some feel that taking a hand with say A 2 in-hand off a player with A 10 due to betting size is a bluff when I fact it's not, it's mealy that this player was prepared to risk more into the pot than the other player for his A. Although your making the other player believe you've got either a 2 pair or have a higher kicker (deception yes) but it's still not really considered a true bluff as all it's saying is (I have an A or a card on the table) is it better than yours and how much are you prepared to risk to find out. (some will see this as being a bluff no doubt but a true bluff it isn't)
(1) SO what's a Bluff! Is going all-in pre-flop with say with 7 2 considered a bluff (NO), If you have 7 2 in-hand and the flop shows say 10 5 7 and you go all-in, re-raise a bet etc, is that considered a bluff (NO). In fact you your doing is telling the other player you have a card on the table in the flop.
A bluff is when you re-raise a bet, go all-in after a flop, turn or river, with no cards in your hand having to do with anything on the table. A bluff is when you try to make an opponent believe that you have say a straight or flush when in fact you do not.
(2) When to Bluff! That's a very tricky question and can be considered to go hand in hand with the third question of WHO to bluff but we'll stick with when for this question.
You often see players bluffing for standard pot size or just for the sake of bluffing not really understanding why there doing it. For pro players bluffing is used in mainly 2 situations, (A) To grab a large pot from a weaker or strategic player who they feel won't risk more than they have to because they want to stay in the game. (B) Used as tactic by pro as a strategic method to suck a player in future hands, usually these players will observe all the players and know who their planning to bluff in advance.
When to bluff is the hardest decision and the biggest risk you can take in poker and there really isn't any true protocols on this topic but it can be seen in a few different scenarios where a player tries to bluff because he is low stacked or a high stacked player stealing hands from weaker players by over betting a hand making the weaker player think twice (if I call and lose I'm out of the game) type of thought, so that player in many cases will fold.
Bluffing is mealy about playing with another players mind making them believe you have something when in fact you don't and nothing more.
(3) WHO to Bluff! Now there's something to learn as who is the most important factor of bluffing.
(a) Are you going to bluff a player say 10 times your stack size?
(b) Are you going to bluff a player which is (what we call) a calling machine?
(c) Are you going to bluff a player with 2 pair when there's a potential straight or flush on the table (example).
(d) Are you going to bluff a player which is high on their luck?
(e) Are you going to bluff with anything lower than an A and strong kicker?
(f) Are you going to attempt a bluff without a backup plan in play?
These are just examples of the type of players not to bluff. Ever wondered why some players call your bluffs? More than likely it's to do with one of the reasons above which you didn't look out for or consider.
Bluffing the right players will make all the difference in the way you play poker and how long you last. Making a good player who is ahead in chips fold AA because you made them believe you had a straight can be a great feeling at that time BUT beware as it may also be your downfall in future hands against that player.
(4) WHY Bluff at all! Bluffing is fun, exciting and will boost your ego in any game. Feeling like you can't be beat because you get away with a few bluffs makes a player feel like he's indestructible.
Bluffing for the right reasons is the hard for most as most have no idea why their bluffing other than to deceive the other player to increase their own pot size, in most cases it was the wrong time or you've just shown how venerable you really are. Good players will use that against you (count on it).
Sitters love bluffers, good players will usually keep notes of bluffers (when and why) situations which is why they sit (slow play) hands to start with to increase the pot. If a good player knows there are bluffers on the table they will more than likely slow play more hands as bluffers usually fold all-ins, re-raises and big bets made against them.
Although bluffing is a major part of playing poker you should only use it when you know what your doing, It's not advisable for beginners (casual players) to bluff players that play 100s of games a week. Rather play your good cards, don't be afraid to fold 80% of your hands etc.
Don't bluff unless you know exactly who your bluffing and when. Stretch your bluffs out to 1 in every 20 plus hands or so rather than continuously bluff every couple of hands (you will be caught out and lose).
Bluff weaker players not stronger ones, bluff known bluffers (as they are more likely to fold) than good players. Plan your bluffs (count on losing) to trap a player in upcoming hands. If you lose a bluff and show your cards then your more than likely planning to trap that player very soon because he will think your bluffing him again. A good player will see this in which a casual player will misread that into thinking he's better than you for having read your bluff.
can be won without bluffing (harder for sure) so do you minimise the risk of being known a bluffer or getting trapped. This is actually quite simple and easier than most players think.
(a) If your caught in a situation where you bluff till the end of the hand and your cards are displayed automatically then wait quite a number of hands before bluffing again as you play was revealed.
(b) Don't make bluffing more than 2% of your game strategy unless you know who your bluffing.
(d) Most importantly (unless your planning a trap in advance) never show your cards weather bluffing or not (Don't show any cards no matter what unless the system does it automatically) or just show a few now and then when you've clearly won with using top cards (never show low cards hand wins as it makes you venerable), this confuses even the best of players and even they will be more weary of your plays.
A player that only plays 10 to 20% of his hands will have a far better chance of pulling off a large pot bluff than a player who plays 70% plus of his hands and bluffs 30% of the time. Don't try to bluff re-raises as that is just plain silly to start with even if you feel that re-raise is a bluff within it's self, don't attack it (fold) and stay out of that hand.
Watch your table position when bluffing as that plays a part into knowing when to bluff. Remember bluffing is all about deception, your not deceiving another by going all-in on a re-raise, your not deceiving anyone by going all-in, and your most certainly not deceiving anyone when your over betting a pot (you either are bluffing or you have an unquestionably unbeatable hand). This boils down to who your bluffing.
If a good player is at the same table as known bluffers they will usually try to use that against then at all times and in most hands to get ahead, known bluffers are those that can't help themselves or stop themselves from thinking they have a good chance over a player than has them marked as a bluffer (can be considered as a type of attempt at revenge by the bluffer) but will more than likely lose out 90% of the time.
NOTE; Poker is a game of deception no matter how you look at it or play it even when your playing a top hand your opponent is trying to deceive you in one shape or form or they are just playing (fish) in which case all their depending on is luck and this not considered a bluff.
Remember! There's a time and place to succeed with bluffing which can become a complicated matter for casual players and used to their own advantage for seasoned players. New players should avoid bluffing and instead sit back a watch how and when seasoned players bluff. No crime in folding 20 hand sin a row (have patience and you'll last longer and be more respected as a poker player for it)
What are your thoughts on bluffing?.