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The bluff in poker

The poker players who can successfully use this strategy with the good timing will maximize their profits. Deception is the concept most often associated with poker, but it is not as used as most of us think.

Excluding deception and bluffs from your game would be too extreme a strategy. It will make poker very uninteresting, and if you never make a bluff, you will become so predictable that the chances of victory will be reduced greatly, if not destroyed altogether.

It is wrong never to bluff. Among the best moments to attempt a bluff, one is when we are sure we cannot win the pot, another when we are trying to get the pot before all cards are dealt. On the other hand do not bluf all the time, otherwise you have the fancy play syndrome.

In a game with real money bets, it is possible to calculate whether a bluff will be profitable or not, in a statistical sense. In this regard, we must compare the probability of achieving a successful bluff with the size of the bet and the pot. Therefore, a critical success factor is our ability to predict correctly whether our opponents will fold or not.

Factors for a successful bluff

To decide whether it is the right time to bluff or not, we must consider several of the following factors:

  • Types of opponents: do not deceive your inexperienced opponents since many of them call with anything, failing to realize that your bets represent a strong hand. This is the most common error when bluffing. We must be sure to bluff opponents who know how to fold their hands.
  • Number of opponents: the general rule is not to bluff three or more players, especially in fixed-limit poker. The bluff is more likely to succeed against one opponent, and this not because he is alone, but because the pot is usually not large enough to make it desirable at all cost.
  • Our table image: a bluff may have greater chance of success if we have the image of a straightforward player, easy to read and harmless. If on the other hand they know that we have used deception before, the next time they will not fold easily. However, the reverse psychology may occur too, because if you successfully deceived good poker players previously, and if they think that you are a good player too, they might think that you are not bluffing this time.
  • Ability to read other players: if you understand the game or poker well and can prevent your opponents from playing a good game, the chances of deceiving them increase greatly. Opponents' reading ability is probably the most difficult skill to master, but certainly the most important.
  • The board: Avoid bluffing if the board indicates that your opponent could have a strong hand. Conversely a good opportunity to bluff is when the board is rather dry with few chances that your opponent hits a big hand.
  • The pot: Your opponents are more likely to call in a large pot, because it increases their chances of winning big. Instead, if your bluff is successful in a large pot game, the reward will be greater obviously.
  • Position: Late position is ideal for bluffs as you will have more information about the strength of your opponents' hands and thus more chance to make a successful bluff.

In conclusion, it is imperative to consider all these factors in your decision to bluff or not. Bluffing in poker is a difficult skill to master, but once you know how to do it, you will win a lot of money. Never cheat in poker, but always remember to bluff once in a while to remain unpredictable.




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Doyle Brunson Political Joke Upsets
Jan 25 2010 8:36PM EDT

Poker legend Doyle Brunson sent a tweet yesterday making reference to President Barack Obama, "The Democrats say ‘give Obama time.’ Us Repubicans agree, 25 to life seems appropriate!". This created such an uproar in the poker community that you can bet that Doyle won't tweet about politics for a while.


 
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