One of the central tenants of good poker play is a successful bluffing strategy. It's perhaps one of the main reasons why emotional maturity coupled with some anachronistic savagery is often the key to a successful game.
You see, unlike other games at the casino where you're competing against the house advantage (an advantage that is very difficult, and mostly impossible, to overcome), poker is first and foremost a game played against other players. The better you play the hand, the better your chances of winning. Quite obviously, the role of sheer luck remains a defining element of a successful round – a straight flush is still a straight flush and there is little that can beat it. But the inclusion of bluffing adds psychological, methodological and strategic variables to the game. Bluffing can accomplish two things.
First, it can counteract your opponent’s good hand by giving him the impression that your hand is stronger. Second, it can be a way of deceptively undervaluing your good hand in an attempt to siphon more chips out of your opponent’s coffers. If your opponent believes he can triumph over you when in fact he's wrong, there's a higher chance that he'll stake more of an investment in the pot and therefore will be that much closer to busting.
Three steps to spot a bluffer
The more experienced bluffers will be incredibly difficult to detect as they’ll have practiced long and hard to disguise their tells and throw their opponents off track. Take note of the following:
- A bluffer will attempt to create an impression that is contrary to his actual hand
The long drawn-out sigh? The appearance of boredom? Don't buy it! In all likelihood, these are signs that you are being bluffed. Your opponent is intentionally attempting to mislead you.
- A bluffer will attempt to create an impression that is true of his hand
Haven't we just contradicted ourselves? Indeed we have – this is the infamous double bluff, where your opponent will attempt to misleadingly mislead you by trying to make you think he is bluffing when in fact he is not. The most important telltale sign of a double bluff is exaggeration!!!!! Chances are your opponent is becoming almost a caricature of himself: the long sigh is too long, the look of frustration is contrived and artificial, and the appearance of nervousness belies a deceptive confidence underneath. If you're onto a double bluffer, your best response is to use his deception to your advantage by pretending to believe the impressions he is creating. Use this information to your advantage both in terms of your betting strategies and your own gestures.
- A bad bluffer will bluff too frequently
Good bluffing is used selectively and strategically. If you find that one of your opponents begins a series of perpetual bluffs round after round, hand after hand, game after game, then use of our advice in point number two and use it to your advantage. Like they say, fight fire with fire. The best way to counter a bluff is by bluffing back.
More poker related articles