Semi-Bluff - Stone Cold Bluff - Bluffing Frequency
Defined: To make other players believe that one has a better hand than they actually do by betting or raising.
But wait, there's more!! Much more, as a matter of fact.
There are several different types of bluffs, and some each of them are effective in different situations. And speaking of situations, there are situations that make bluffing a bad idea, and those that make bluffing a reasonable play.
First, the Don'ts of Bluffing:
- Dont' bluff inexperienced players. They tend to care about the cards they hold, and not about what cards you might hold. After you bluff at having hit the possible flush on the river, and they call, you'll find yourself saying "How could you make that call when the Flush could have landed on the River?".
Then, they'll say "Oh, look at that. Didn't even notice it. Heh, you're right though." And, they'll be saying it as they sweep in the pot full of chips.
- Don't bluff a lot of people at once. Remember, if you don't fool everyone it's the same as not fooling everyone.
- Don't bluff much in limit. Because the bet sizes are fixed, it's not as though you can add enough folding power into your bet to induce someone to fold very often.
- Bluff against opponents who are sufficiently skilled and paying sufficient attention.
- Bluff when the board allows you to represent a better hand than you think your opponent has. For instance, after a flush fills in, or when a scare card hits. After all, if your opponent has no reason to believe you have him beaten, he doesn't have a reason to fold.
This is a type of bluff. When you bet on a draw, you are semi-bluffing. Your hand is not yet made, so it's a bluff. But, you do have a chance to complete your hand and pull ahead, salvaging the pot should your opponent call.
So, it's a bluff, but not one without any teeth.
Semi-bluffs can be used as an effective tool at the poker table.
Stone Cold Bluffs
Are those times when you bet, and your only chance to win the pot is by convincing your opponent to fold.
It's obvious that if you bluff too much, people are going to figure it out, and catch you with your pants down sooner or later. But, you have to bluff occassionally, or people will be able to read you like a book and you'll never get paid off on a big hand.
Mathematically, you should bluff just enough so that the chances against your bluffing are identical to the pot odds your opponent is getting.
Hmmm. What? - Pick up Sklansky's "Theory of Poker" for the full mathematical proof. In the meantime, do it just enough to keep them from being sure you're not doing it.