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When to Bluff and How
Doyle Brunson says that one of the keys in NL poker is never get you money in when you are drawing dead. These are considered horrible bluffs such as a stone cold bluff in a multi way pot with one player already in. You gain nothing from this and run the risks of losing your stack to someone that might really have a hand.
Who What Where When and How. These rules will help you in every aspect of your poker life.
Who is it I am bluffing? Bluffing a poor player is never going to work...period ever. Poor players simple do not know when to run and hide and when to call this is why they are poor players. You also cant get away with it if the person you are bluffing is a solid rock type player. Chances are they in the hand with the nuts are extremely close to it. The type you can and should bluff against is the passive tight style of player that is regularly folding hands to re-raises and is playing very timid poker.
Once you have the Who down you need to know the What
What is it you are bluffing with and what is it that you are risking and what is it that you have to gain? I will never put in a bluff that will end my night unless I am sure that I will get the lay down. The hands I tend to bluff with are the BIG drawing hands such as the open- ended Straight draw and the flush draw when I have 17 outs on the flop with 2 cards to come for a 68% favorite to any thing under a made straight. I never make this bluff to a paired board because only callers with sets are going to pay me off and then I run the risk of losing both of my draws to a full house. It is still a drawing hand after all even though you are a favorite.
The second bluff I like to make is the mid pair with open ended straight. This comes when you have caught with your suited connectors and suited gap cards. 10-9 / 9-8 /6-5 and some of my favorites 6-4 / 7-5 / 8-6 and you catch a low ragged flop with maybe one over card like J 5 6 with your hole cards being 86 or 69. I only make this bluff against players I have read to be tight by the book type players players that can be put off a decent hand by forcing them in for all the chips they have. I never make this to a stack bigger than mine or on a 3 suited board. I dont fear the 3 to a flush but I it is a place where I am drawing dead. I also will not make a second stab at the pot if I get hit with the 2 pair. I will save that bet to the river card. Reason being is my 2 pair can make someone else a straight draw and then I am drawing dead to 6 outs. Example from above.
I have 8 6 and the board comes J 5 6. I got into the pot cheap and I will fire at it with a pot size or better bet. I get a caller from a player I peg as tight but passive. Him calling this flat tells me he has the top pair and a good kicker AJs KJs is the 2 hands I HAVE to put him on and worse case he is slow playing JJ. I am not concerned with the over pairs AA KK QQ because he did not offer a reraise to me and he let me in cheap on the preflop round. The turn brings my 2 pair with an 8. Now I cannot fire at the pot at all because he has a bigger 2 pair and a good kicker. I have to wait for him to bet and fold here or check if he checks and hope to be bailed out on the river. Even if I make my boat if he fires a pot size or better bet I can just call because it would be a bigger boat. This bluff is never made with all my chips and it is only made on the flop not the turn or the river.
Same scenario but the turn card brings me a 7 for a pair and an open ended straight. I have already fired my flop bluff and now the board looks J 5 6 7. If he leads the action and makes a weak bet less than half the pot or lower I am going to fire out hard at him. If it is a spot where I am first to act I am going to fire a check raise his way. I want him to think a few things, I got over pair to the board, I hit set or I made a gut shot. The last one is a tough sell because I fired big on the flop and not many players bad or good are going to buy the gut shot straight. If he calls this bet and I dont catch my river out I have to lay it down. If I do catch I got him committed to calling my river all in bet.
The Where is the most important. The Where is the spot that you have the most info at. I would never bluff a pot as first to act on the flop. The only hands that call me in this spot is the ones that have me killed. The Where is the best position I can get. The cutoff is great for this because there is only one to act behind you and if he folds you have bought the button for the next round of bets. I make this bluff in 2 ways.
First if the others ahead of me have bet the flop very weak. Maybe a minimum bet and smooth caller.
Second is if I am first to act on a on a ragged flop in a multi way pot. If it looks like a nasty flop for the type of hands you would play from UTG or early chances are they are not going to waste the money to call you. If I fire this bluff off and it comes back around to me with a reraise I lay it down and give my enemy credit for the slow-played big hand.
I never make a bluff when I have just sat down at a table. The When is only after several hands have been played. I want to know the answers to all the questions up to this point. I want to know that when I make the play it will not be seen as a bluff buy as a strong play with a strong hand. You will see several players flaming others when the bluff they made just got called.
" HOW COULD YOU CALL THAT WITH JUST MID PAIR WITH OVERS ON THE BOARD?"
" WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING IN THE HAND DIDN'T YOU SEE ME RAISE YOU 5X YOUR BET?"
" OH MAN WHAT A STUPID CALL YOU MADE ALL IN FOR ALL YOUR CHIPS WITH JUST ACE HIGH, I COULD HAVE ANYTHING YOU ARE AN IDIOT!"
These are all from games I played just in the last week, and the answer to all of them was the same.
" I KNEW YOUR WERE BLUFFING BECAUSE I AM A BETTER PLAYER THAN YOU AND SIMPLY OUTPLAYED YOU"
This will be up for debate. MY how is normally a quick and decisive bet with no words no other action what so ever. In a live game I am very careful to bet all my hands the same way. This is much more difficult online but for the purpose of explaining this I will use a live game as an example.
I make every single bet the same way. If I raise I say raise, If I call I say Call If I am all in I am all in. All my bets are made from the same hand. I count out my chips the came way every time I touch them, 3 times. I never EVER make big booming statements like " Well I might regret this but I call." I keep it plan and simple and as close to robotic as I can. I never slam the chips down I never splash the chips in I never do fancy tricks with them when I am in a hand. Save that shit for the penny games with your grandma if you want to do them.
This is how I make my bluffs. You might do something else, or have a little something extra to add and I would love to hear it.
FEAR ME! I am DeadMoney. [url]http://deadmoneyinc.blogspot.com[/url]
Hmmm....how much could I make selling this post to Austin players??
Whether he likes it or not, a manís character is stripped at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards, as in life. ~Anthony Holden
Thats a pretty good assestment of the Bluffing Do's & Don'ts.
Did you really write all of that?
If you did, well done.
I agree with pretty much a lot of the things you said, well put.
My Brothers of the sword
I'd rather fight beside you than any army of thousands
Let no man forget how menacing we are
We are Lions!!!
You know whats there
Waiting beyond that beach
Take it, its yours!!!
Solid article, ScottMc, keep em coming! I look forward to trying out your blog later. I find there are less poker blogs with substantial written sections, and more with brief snippets posted frequently -- these are fun, but I like to read the meatier stuff too sometimes.
Very nice article scott. You deserve lots of credit because its not only long but very informing. I agree with all of it you should right a book. Well done and if you want to post longer than that. Please tell me before I start reading it. Im half illiterate now after reading that, god that was long.
I got the nuts!!!
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