Poker – The Game

Bluffing is undeniably a part of playing poker. In my view it is a real skill which is much overlooked by newcomers to the game who maybe wish to develop a reputation of playing strong hands only.
The trouble with only playing strong hands is that statistically you aren’t likely to get that many strong hands in a tournament, particularly if it’s a turbo. So, you have to think about other strategies to get involved and win pots. How about bluffing to try to win some hands that otherwise you’d back off from?
For those totally new to poker, bluffing is basically pretending that you have a stronger hand than you actually do. There are variations on the basic cold bluff where you have nothing – for example semi-bluffing when you hold 4 spades after the flop and you are just needing one more for the nut flush. But I’ll discuss those another day.
I think that bluffing (and detecting an opponent’s bluff) is actually easier in a face-to-face poker game, where you can see your opponents. Their facial expressions and body language can give a lot away as to what they’re up to, particularly if you’ve been paying attention to these things in previous hands. If you can learn to play all your hands with the same mannerisms, then opponents will find it very hard to read you.
But in online poker, where you cannot see your opponents, this presents a problem both with trying to bluff and calling an opponent’s bluff. Online poker is much more impersonal than a face-to-face game and it is very probable that you have never played your opponents before.
So, what sort of bluffing strategy can you develop in online poker? Well, I try to use the basics to increase the odds of my bluff working out. If you’re on the button (and hence last to act) then you may wish to think about bluffing a bet to steal the pot if everyone folds round to you. Or if you have a big stack of chips and have average cards like J-10 or K-10 then you might want to bluff to try to steal the shorter stacked blinds. This is also a tactic known as bullying, which although it sounds bad, is actually another good tactic to have in your poker arsenal. But I’ll discuss bullying another time. Another situation to consider a bluff is when you suspect that an opponent himself is bluffing trying to steal a pot and you could raise his bet. Hopefully he’ll fold!
The thing to remember with bluffing is that if someone re-raises you back then it’s time to get out the hand. If the bluff hasn’t worked, don’t lose more chips!
Oh and don’t be put off by negative comments from other players if it goes wrong and your bluff being exposed – remember it is an important part of the game and if you get caught out once or twice, so what? Keep working on it!
Good luck at the tables!
Mark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *