Thursday Poker Blog! – Formula For a Good Bluff

Hello all, and welcome back to our Thursday Poker Blog!  I am not gonna lie, the effect of the U.S. Government’s shutdown of major online poker sites gave me some writer’s block today as I am simply not getting to log the poker hours I have been accustomed to for the past 6-7 years or so.  But, finally, a good article idea came to mind – bluffing.

To bluff, of course, is to represent a strong hand when in fact you have a weak one.  The only successful bluff is the one that gets all of your opponents to fold because, of course, the typical bluff will not hold up against a competitor’s hand.  Bluffing has become Hollywoodized into a bigger part of the game than I think it really is.  I liken a good bluff to a thunderous dunk in a basketball game.  Yes, the dunk is still just worth two points, but it has a way of galvanizing the dunker and his teammates while deflating his opponents (it also either ignites or deflates a crowd depending on whether the dunker is on the home team).  A big pot won by bluffing is worth just as much as a big pot won with a superior hand.  But it creates a lot of positive thoughts, like 1) “I have got my opponents’ numbers tonight”; and 2) “I’m already ahead of the curve, wait ’til I actually get some cards!”  

Here are some tips for executing a good bluff:

1) Don’t try to bluff too often.  Scroll up and read my earlier statement again – “The only successful bluff is the one that gets all of your opponents to fold.”  This inherently makes bluffing a low percentage play, only to be tried when the moment is just right.  Bluffing is the hero move, and unlike superhero movies, the hero who doesn’t know when to take his foot off the pedal usually winds up dead.  Bluffing too much also hurts your table image.  If your opponents are experienced, they know that, mathematically speaking, no one gets great cards too much of the time.  They know that you are bluffing some of the time, and will look to pick you off. 

2) Don’t bluff too little either!–  A collateral benefit to bluffing is that if your opponents know you are bold enough to bluff on occasion, they will generally respect your hand less than if you are a tight player.  Meaning, you will get more action when you actually have a great hand than you would if you are known to never bluff. 

3) Never forget about pot odds.  The size of the pot and the amount of your chip stack usually dictates whether or not you can even consider a bluff.  For instance, if the pot has 3500 units in it, your opponent bets 1200, and you have only 2000 chips in your stack, you really cannot consider a bluff all-in.  If you push all-in, your opponent will have to call only 800 chips to win 6700.  Unless your opponent has zilch, he is not turning down 8 1/2 : 1 odds on a call.

4) Bluff the bluffer.  Some of the best bluffs I can remember have been when I can tell I have just been bluffed at by my opponent.  This is the one time where you can worry less about the pot odds you are giving your opponent, but only if we are at the flop or beyond (pre-flop, no hand is so dominant over another that a player should ever turn down steep pot odds).  One of my best friends is quite difficult to read most of the time, but I have noticed that he loves taking a stab at pots on the river.  This is a good time to take a stab at the pot, especially if you need it badly.

5) Texture of the board.  There should be a reason for your opponent to THINK you have a good hand.  For instance, if you have a hand like 77, and you raise pre-flop, make a strong continuation bet on the flop, get called, and then check the turn because the board reads j-9-3 and you figure your opponent has you beat, an ace on the river can be a major bluff opportunity, because your action throughout the hand represents a hand like AK or AQ.

6) Your story must make sense!  If you bluff against a good player, he will go through the entire hand in his head, and view your action throughout the hand as a story.  He will try to understand why you acted the way you did pre-flop, post-flop, on the turn and on the river, in order to try and guess your hand.  An erratic bluff that completely contradicts your action for multiple rounds is likely to get picked off by a good player, so do not try this hero move unless it fits in with the rest of your play during the hand. 

Explore posts in the same categories: Poker Tips and Tales

One Comment on “Thursday Poker Blog! – Formula For a Good Bluff”

  1. sky.com Says:

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