Bluffing: Do it correctly.

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The funnest part of the game that should be incorporated into your game the least.  Bluffing.  Everyone loves to bluff. The massive pots you take off your friends, family, and other players don’t compare to just winning with aces. Yet, bluffs need to perfectly timed, correctly read, and properly bet.  So often do you see amateurs throw in final bets on the river because that is the only way they can win the pot. Although this is true, their intuition of the hand is usually completely off and quite often do they get called.

To make an effective bluff, there are a few major factors you need to take into account while in the hand.  The type of player, the situation, the depth of currency(chips/money), your table perception, and your intuition of your opponent.  When players don’t take these into account, especially in soft/amateur filled games, they tend to lose multiple pots.  This is usually because their opponents are not on the same level of thought. You need to make sure that your opponent understands what you are going to potentially do, and they also need to understand the thinking process of the psychological aspects of poker.

When you make your bluff, its best to pick spots in which you can represent a hand that the other player would easily put you on.  The situation is a live 9 handed cash game. Limits $1/$2.  It is a deep-stack table so everyone has over 100bb.  Throughout your 2 hour session you are known to play connectors/suited cards quite often, and all of your non-showdown wins have been with top 10 premium hands.  Your position is the cutoff facing a raise of $7 dollars from a tight player who is holding AsKh.  Your hand holds Qd10d.  In this situation, any time you call, the player will immediately put you on suited/connectors.  You decide to call the raise in position, the button and blinds fold out.  The flop comes 9c 6d 5s.  You have completely missed the flop but also so has your opponent.  The villain leads out with an $11 continuation bet into the pot of $15.  In this stage of the hand you have the three basic options, raise, fold, call.  Knowing the cards, any three of these plays would be applicable, but you know you can win the pot with a perfectly executed bluff.  You decide to call.  By calling this bet, you are telling your opponent that you have hit that flop and are letting them dictate action. The turn comes 2h.  The initial raiser bets a weak amount of $17 into the pot of now $37.  This is your chance to spring into action.  By using a large raise on the turn, you are effectively using your table image and representing two pair/straight.  You elect to raise $50 and the villain folds.  You just won $104 pot.

Of course this situation is a fairly ideal and quite straight forward.  Ultimately, the key to implementing your betting structure,table persona, and intuition of the villain allowed you to successfully bluff.  If you have had the 87, 65, or 34, you may have just called and tried to take the villain to value town on the river, but doing this play avoids any Ace or King to come off.  This is where the higher levels of thinking come into play (he knows, I know situation), but in this situation you have played your measly Qd10d, represented a middle connector and took down the pot.

Surely you won’t get situation like this in your game every time, but the most important thing to remember is to play your bluffs as if you were playing the hand you are representing.  Also, when bluffing on draw heavy board that fits your range of hands, don’t be afraid to set up your opponent.  You will find that the image you portray is stronger than you may think.

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