Why You Don’t Bluff.
If you want to beat this game and have a 70% or better success rate then you need to forget about bluffing.
Bluffing is not the integral part of the game that you may think it is. In fact bluffing is over rated and over used by many weak players and it is one of the reasons why many people fail to grasp the SNG poker concept.
In cash game No Limit poker you need steel balls and an iron will to beat the game and be a winning player over a long period of time. In a cash game your skills are all about waiting for the right opportunity to come along and then exploiting that opportunity to the maximum.
Very often in a cash game you will bluff with 72 offsuit and then show your cards to put the other players on tilt. When you finally showdown with the nuts in a later hand and rake a massive pot your psychological warfare has won a great victory.
What you need to grasp here is that there is a massive difference in game type between Limit, No Limit, Multi Table tournaments and SNG’s and each game type needs a different approach to be successful.
In Limit poker on a ten handed table bluffing is mostly a waste of time. You may get away with it on occasions but it will surely be outweighed by your losses. You are simply playing to showdown the best hand.
Semi Bluffs in limit poker are common, where you hit a flush draw on the flop and want to get to the river as cheaply as possible you would raise on the flop to slow the other players down and have them check to you on the turn where you aim to see a free card. Good players understand this and usually re raise against you if they have top pair in this spot.
In No Limit cash games bluffing on a consistent basis will lose you huge amounts of money against solid players.
A continuation bet may feel like a bluff, but it’s not really a bluff when you are a solid player. If you have AK in early position and get a caller it’s likely they have an Ace with a worse kicker. Your continuation bet is designed to tell them you are confident in your hand when the flop is all rags.
Most of the time they will fold against you.
In Multi Table tournaments everyone is waiting for good hands to play and so bluffing most often gets you looking for a new tournament to join.
Don't think they always play great poker on TV
The key factor in all this is that what you see in live tournaments on television does not relate at all to the world of online poker.
What you see when you watch a “live” tournament is usually the edited highlights. And these highlights are edited to make the viewing more interesting the same as any other sport is edited.
A poker tournament consists of endless hours of one person raising and the rest folding. It’s really not great TV and quite boring. So the edited highlights make up for all this by squeezing in every single bluff that was made and every huge pot. Everything else is discarded.
So what you get is a warped distortion of how the game is played. If you watch poker on TV for any length of time and try to copy the actions you will end up a seriously bad player!
Last night I watched the highlights of the Party Poker heads up tournament between Devilfish and Annie Duke. What pricked my ears was the reference by the commentator to the low frequency of bluffing, over five legs and some 120 hands there were three bluff attempts.
That tells you everything you need to know about bluffing.
And so to our six seat SNG.
Here bluffing abounds. This is the bluffers paradise. If there was a heaven for poker bluffers this would be it.
As I’ve mentioned before at this game you have poker players from every poker spectrum come to try their hand at the game. When you sit down at a six handed SNG table you just know that you are going to have one terrible player, three bluffers, a reasonable player and yourself.
Your mission is to eliminate all bluffing from your game until you win consistently. Once you know how to win without bluffing then you have the bluff as a valuable weapon in your armoury if you need to call on it. Which should not be very often.
Many of the other players will be bluffing against you. You need to accept that this is the case and develop a plan to combat it. That plan is to play tight and call their bluffs when you make your hand.
There is no other way to beat this game consistently. If you fall into the trap of trying to out bluff everybody else you will simply run into someone elses hand and be eliminated.
Therefore you need to turn the game to your advantage by removing bluffing from your game. Once you have done this you will find that the game becomes much easier to play and also much more enjoyable.
You will find that you are constantly getting your money in with the best hand. People keep sucking out on you, the 3’s hit their set on the river to crack your Aces, your flopped straight meets a rivered flush, the flush you make on the turn is rivered by a full house.
All of this is to be celebrated. It means you are playing great poker. People have to get lucky to beat you, their pathetic bluff attempts are no match for the great hands you showdown with.
Next time you consider bluffing at a pot do a sanity check and fold. Save your chips for when you have a hand. The reason you can beat this game so easily is because you have so many bluffers lined up against you.
Just don’t be one of them.