Poker Strategy: Poker Hand Strength vs Bluffing
Your poker hand strength and the bluff… why is it important? There are some poker players who never, ever bluff. There aren’t a lot of players like that, because bluffing is necessary to keep other players on their guard. But once you figure out that one of those players is at your table, they are easy to beat. If they put down money once the cards are all out, you should fold — unless you have a hand that you think is ironclad. In that case, you should raise, because if they just have an average hand, they will then hold.
Other people like to bluff all the time. Once you identify this sort of player, you must keep calling if you have a decent hand at all. It’s true that habitual bluffers are going to find good hands now and then, but they still bluff far too often, and you can still take advantage of that tendency. Calling against this type of player will help you win real cash over time as opposed to folding because you will catch them in their bluffs.
So how do you find the right mix in your own game?
There are different situations and variables, especially when playing online poker. The key is to keep others guessing. If you bluff some of the time, then you’re a better player than those who never bluff and those who bluff pretty much all the time. Better players are able to keep their opponents from guessing whether a bluff is at hand or not. If you have to guess, of course you’re going to be wrong sometimes. That’s why it’s called gambling, remember?
The key comes with the “tell.” This is a gesture that a player has that reveals when he either has something good or doesn’t have anything at all. All but the most elite players have a tell of some sort; it just comes as a visceral response when you see your hand. If you can identify (and then eliminate or even reduce) your own tell, you will have a lot more success at the table, because people won’t be able to tell what you are doing.
A lot of people bluff way too often when they are in a low-limit games or when they play at the free poker tables. Why? Because when you have nothing on the line or when are playing with fixed limits, you just have to make one more bet to see a player’s hand. The pots are usually sizable enough, at least in comparison to the size of a wager, to make the call the right choice.
However, in other situations, just the threat of a bluff can be crucial. Good players — those who bluff just the right amount of the time and in the right circumstances — also have the threat working for them. You don’t know whether this opponent has a solid hand or is simply acting like he does. You want to become that type of opponent. There is no set of hard and fast rules that will help you figure out what that balance is. The only good strategy is to play, read your opponents and their tells. Once you have found it, though, you will feel it — and you’ll see the results when your wins pile up.