Pure Poker Bluffing
Betting heavily with a garbage hand all the way to the river, rarely works in poker. To get away with a pure bluff, you need to establish yourself as a tight-aggressive player and play opponents, who, observing that, respect your bets.
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Even then, pure bluffing won't work against someone with the nuts. Of course, one reason for bluffing is to get caught occasionally, which deceives opponents into calling your future bets on strong hands. However, in low-limit Hold'em games, which are mostly populated by loose-passive players, you will have callers whether you bluff or not. That makes excessive use of bluffing costly since you will 10se when you bluff, and it is not necessary to deceive people since your strong hands will be called anyway. Even without pure bluffing, there are many ways to practice deception. Consider these scenarios.
Scenario 9- You hold A♣ 9♣ in a late position and the flop is Q♣ Q♥10♣. There is an early position bet; three people call and you raise. Everyone after you folds except the players already in the hand, who call the raise. The turn card is A♦; everyone checks to you and you check. The river card is an 8♣ completing your flush. Everyone again checks; you bet and there is one caller-the player who first bet who holds K♥ Q♦. Your flush beats the trip Queens.
Your raise was a semi-bluff since your hand was not the best but had a good chance of improving. The raise did several things. It bought a free card since the player with the best hand after the flop (trip Queens), fearing your raise, never bet them again. By inducing your opponents to check, you saw the river card for free. Since bets double after the turn, your raise was only half the amount required to call a bet after the turn card (a significant savings). Your raise also provided information. Your opponent could have flopped a full house , and you could be "drawing dead" -that is, even if you hit the flush, you still 10se. Not re-raising, and checking to you later on, is a signal that your opponent does not have a full house or four of a kind.
Scenario 10- You hold K♣ Q♦ in a mid-position. The flop is J♣, 10♥, 7♠, and the action is checked to you. With an open-ended straight draw, but nothing else, you bet. The next player raises, one other player calls the raise, everyone else folds, and you call the raise. The turn card is a 9♠, giving you the nut straight. It is your turn but you check, feigning fear over the raise and the straight possibility on the board. The player who raised previously bets and is called by the remaining player and then yourself. The river card is a 3♣, giving you the nuts. You check again; there is a bet; the other player folds; then you raise. Your opponent, the original raiser, who holds J♥ J♣, feels obliged to call.
Your deceptive play in this hand won a great deal of money. Had you checked your straight draw, and bet when the straight possibility appeared on the board, your opponent with the trip Jacks would have been more careful at the end. By doing the reverse, you trained your opponent to bet for you and were able to execute a successful check raise on the end. Your opponents will also be wary in the future and not automatically take a check as a sign of weakness. It is usually a bad play to check with the nuts on the river, but this play worked because your opponent had a strong hand (as indicated by the raise) and you deceived him into believing it to be the best hand.
It is not correct to always play drawing hands in a deceptive manner. Often you will check when drawing, and bet when you hit the draw. However, these are ways to vary your play, and keep opponents off balance. Making intentionally misleading plays does assume your opponents are skilled and think about their actions. Opponents who don't think cannot be deceived. Against opponents who call no matter what, don't make fancy deceptive plays-they won't notice. When your opponents call all the time the only way to win is to have the best cards at the end.
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