The art of the believable bluff (and why beginner poker players can’t do it).
about what it takes to win a hand of poker. You don’t need the best
hand. You don’t even need a good hand. All you really need is to
convince your opponent that your hand is better than theirs. This is
why poker is not considered a game of chance, where the cards will
randomly favor different people, but rather a game of skill, where
the most persuasive player wins.
someone that you have a better hand is a tactic we all know as
By its most basic definition, to bluff is to bet on a hand that you
don’t believe is the best, in hopes of everyone else believing it
really is the best. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of
winning on a bluff.
simple as it sounds, the bluff is not so easy to pull off. All you
have to do is pretend you have a good hand, right? Can’t you just bet
on a bad hand and hope everyone believes you? What if you fold 8
hands in a row, then all of a sudden place a large raise – that
should be pretty convincing!
Art of Bluffing in Poker
Bluffing isn’t just another way to bet. There’s an art to it. And if you’re not a good bluffing artist, no one is going to believe you. This is one of the worst problems new poker players find it hard to overcome, because they don’t understand the finely woven tapestry of art that goes into it.
is all about the ability to convince your opponent that you have a
better poker hand. Attempting to do so at the wrong time will get you
nowhere. It’s not just about increasing your bets, but knowing
exactly when to do so.
poker players are constantly reading everything that happens at the
table. To a veteran of the felt, every poker hand tells a story. The
best authors build strong characters (hole cards) around a
well-developed setting (community cards) to tell a realistic and
imaginatively woven story (the bluff). If there’s a shred of detail
out of place, the best readers can unravel it in a heartbeat!
If an Ace flops and you aggressively pursue it right through to the river, it’s easy to believe you have an Ace underneath. But if you blind your way in, limp through the flop, check a weak turn then raise on an equally weak river, no one will believe you have an Ace. The timing is all wrong. One story is believable, the other is not.
This is the simplest example anyone should be able to understand, but situations go so, so much deeper when you get into a table with hardened pros. It’s impossible to explain in words; requiring nothing but pure endurance and experience to understand. Which brings us to…
Beginner Poker Players Can’t Bluff
good friend of mine once compared beginner poker players to the
craftsmanship of a sword. During the initial forging, the blade is
dull and lacks any sheen. As the blacksmith works his magic, the
sword begins to take true form. It can become finely honed to a
brilliant and murderous edge. But this is a lengthy and painstaking
process. Any shortcuts will degrade the overall quality of the blade.
the sword is in its earliest stages, it is incapable of anything more
than hacking away at an enemy. Over time, heat after heat, stroke
after stroke of the hammer, it becomes sharper and far more
impressive. It can now be wielded with ease, in any direction –
jab, thrust, slice, parry, as quick as a wasp!
point is, experience and consistency are the only means to success.
The more time a player spends among those who seem to have the
mysterious power to predict their every move, the more that players
learns to relax and compete with discretion. Over time, the player
grows stronger, gaining insight to their opponents abilities – not
because anyone told them how, but because they instinctively
recognize situations – stories – the impossible bluffs versus the
you want to become a great poker play, you have to keep playing the
game. No matter what. Stay on high alert and pay attention to every
single detail until, every sight and syllable, until finally the
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