CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Articles in this Series

Gaming Guru

 

Texas Hold'em A to Z: B Is for Bluffing

22 October 2010

A bluff is a bet or raise made with a hand that has no chance of winning. The purpose is to win a pot when your hand is not strong enough to do so on its own. You are essentially representing a big hand when in reality you have nothing. Bluffing is a very valuable weapon to have in your poker arsenal, but you should make sure you use it correctly and don't over use it.

The popularity of the television coverage of many of the large no limit tournaments have lead to a misconception about the frequency of bluffing in poker games. Showing bluffs are big drama and make for very exciting entertainment in these shows. The TV producers make sure they are shown in the final edits of the show. Bluffing is more prevalent in no limit poker and tournaments because the players are playing their opponents and their stack size. Bluffing does have a place in some limit poker games as well and can be profitable in situations where it is used correctly, however in Limit Hold'em you will usually have to show down the best hand. Bluffs work best when you are heads up against another player, especially if the other player is tight.

In most low limit games, bluffing is futile. For an extra dollar of two there is someone who will want to keep you honest. If there is even one calling station in the game, you should not attempt to bluff. Players in low limit games also tend to stay if they have caught even a piece of the flop, such as low pair. Trying to run a bluff by them won't work as they will call all the way to the river.

In mid or higher limit games, a bluff has a better chance of being successful if the pot is small. Once the pot gets big the players may be getting the correct odds to stay in. You also may have better success in short-handed games as there will usually not be a lot of money in the pot and a player on a flush draw may not want to continue because they are not getting the right odds to do so.

Your position is important when you contemplate a bluff. If you are on the button and everyone has folded, you might be able to steal the blinds with a bluff. However you should not try this too often. If you keep raising all the time on the button, the players in the blinds will eventually play back at you. Some players will defend their blinds no matter what they have. If this is the case, this type of bluff will not work.

If you are in the blinds in a short-handed game and no one has shown any strength before the flop, and the flop has been checked around, you may be able to win with a bet by being the first one to bet. You have a better chance of this working if there are no connecting cards or two suited cards on the board.

In Hold'em for Advanced Players, authors Sklansky and Malmuth suggest that you should bluff when you think the size of the pot compared with the probability that your opponent will fold is large enough to make it profitable. If there is $40 in the pot and the bet is $10, you are getting 4 to 1 odds. If you think that your opponent will fold more than once in five times, then it will be a profitable play. On the reverse side if your hand can only beat a bluff, you should only call if you think the probability that your opponent is bluffing justifies the pot odds you are getting.

Some players feel that you should bluff as a way to advertise that you do bluff in hopes of getting called later when you are not bluffing. Too much advertising can be expensive and you should avoid bluffing if this is your only reason. While a pure bluff will occasionally work, you should use it very sparingly when you are in a limit game.

Keep in mind that number one rule when attempting a bluff: Your bluff must be believable in order for it to have a chance of working.

Semi Bluffing

Author David Sklansky coined the phrase semi-bluffing. It is a profitable technique that is used instead of an outright bluff. Unlike a bluff when you have nothing, semi-bluffing is done when your hand is not strong enough to win the pot at the time but has the chance of improving to the best hand. If you bet, you are hoping that the other players will fold and you will win the pot without going any further. If you are called, then you still have a chance that your hand will improve to be the best hand.

Many semi-bluffing situations will come when you have a flush or straight draw. Betting if you are first to act or raising on the flop could win you the pot or get you a free card.

Say you hold the ace and 7 of hearts and the flop was king of hearts, 7 of clubs and 3 of hearts. If you bet and no one else has a king, they may figure you for a pair of kings and fold. If you are called you have a pair of sevens that can be beaten by anyone holding a king. However you have many ways of improving your hand. There are nine hearts that will make you a flush. There are three aces that will make you two pairs and two sevens that can make you trips or quads. You even have the possibility of a full house if you were to catch another ace and seven on the Turn and River.

Raising with ace-king before the flop is technically a semi-bluff. While it would be possible to win with ace high, you will probably need to improve this hand. If however you raise and everyone folds, you win.

You can use a semi-bluff more than you can a straight bluff because you do have a chance of improving your hand. Just remember you can only do this when there are more cards to come.

Bluffing is a part of the game, but don't get too carried away with it or some other player will end up carrying your chips away from the table.

Until next time, remember: "Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

> More Books By Bill Burton