Apr 29 2010

More Tips on Bluffing

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

Bluffing is a requirement in poker. If you are playing poker and never attempt even the smallest bluffs, your opponents are usually going to eat you alive. Bluffs are not always what they are made out to be, however. On TV and in movies, bluffs are dramatized as these big courageous acts where everything is on the line. In reality, bluffs can be as simple as a continuation bet. Any time that you are making a bet, raise, or even a call with nothing, you are bluffing. Most players don’t think about small continuation bets as bluffs, but if they are not done for value, what kind of bet are they?

There is a lot of money to be made with consistency in bluffing. Multiple successful continuation bets are going to pay off far more than an occasional monster bluff. The problem with big bluffs is the risk of ruin. If you run a bluff that spans across the entirety of a hand, the odds of your opponent(s) folding decrease with each street. To some, this is obvious, but to others it is not. Some people think that it only makes sense to fire a monster bet on the river when their bluffs did not work on the flop or turn, but this is a very flawed strategy. Sometimes it is better to just give up on a hand. It can be easy to convince yourself that bluffing is a good idea, even when it is painfully obvious that your opponent is not going to fold.

Bet Sizing

It is almost impossible to know with 100% certainty when your opponents are most likely to lay down their hand. You can put other players on a range of hands, but this does not tell you what they are holding. If you consider the likelihood of a fold, and can make accurate assumptions, bet sizing is going to be that much easier.

For example, if you think your opponent has a busted draw, it makes a ton more sense to make a small river bluff, as opposed to going all in. Since your opponent has nothing anyway, they aren’t much more likely to fold to an all in shove than a smaller bet. They have no reason to call, so any bet from you is enough for them to get out of the pot. Sure, a massive bet would also push them off their hand, but there is an underlying flaw in this play. If you make a very big river bluff, and they happen to have a big hand, you have effectively value bet yourself. You are only going to fold out hands that fold to virtually any bet, so why risk more chips than necessary?

Of course, you don’t want to make a bluff so small that your opponent has a reason to come back over the top, but a reasonable bet will usually work. If you think your opponent has a big hand, as opposed to something like a flush draw, you are going to need to alter your strategy. Bigger bets work better than small bets in this situation, but no bet at all is optimal. Don’t try to push players off of monster hands unless you know for a fact that they are capable of laying down a big hand.

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