I debated, whether or not, to include an article on bluffing in Texas Holdem, only because every poker site has covered it to death and it has been so over glamorized. But then I thought some players, especially the newer ones, will be interested to hear our take on the ‘mighty’ bluff. So let’s see if we can add something fresh to the stew…
Most new players think bluffing is a big part of being a great Texas holdem player, not true. I think people think this because it has been represented to them in this romantic fashion through movies, television shows and good old storytelling. If you’ve played Texas Holdem, how many times have you heard players telling you a great story about somebody getting away with a gutsy bluff and winning a huge pot (second only to, players whining about their bad beats). Because of the incredible drama that comes with a successful bluff it is what people tend to remember.
Its human nature to create a hierarchy in one’s own mind about what is worth remembering and what just fades away, and a good bluff it seems is always what people will remember.
It’s dramatic; it’s what legends are made of. It’s what people will talk about for a long time when remembering Chris Moneymaker’s thrilling win over Sam Farha in the 2003 World Series of Poker.
But these legendary bluffs are few and far between. A good Texas Holdem player will use a bluff from time to time, but if overused you surely will go broke. Like every other skill a good Texas Holdem player needs to possess, bluffing should just be another bullet in your gun. There are times, especially in multi table Texas Holdem tournaments, when you’re going to have to steal some pots in order to stay alive, but it’s better to bluff at the small pots to keep yourself hydrated until something bigger and better comes along.
Remember bluffing is only successful if you can show winning hands. What this means is good solid play early on sets up your ability to pull off a bluff. Also, a great Texas Holdem player always seems to know the right time to pull it off. That my friends, is a sixth sense that some players are just born with.
Let’s talk about one time when bluffing can work, but it takes nerves of steel and again, should be used selectively. Bluffing from up front. These days most Texas Holdem players are familiar with the obvious bluff situations, for example, when your first in from late position, when the board pairs, when a third suited card flops on the river, when you bet pre-flop, miss and bet right out on the flop, etc.
Bluffing in early position or under the gun, particularly in a short handed Texas Holdem game can work for you. All the other players will give you credit for having a real hand and unless someone has woken up with a monster they will fold to you most of the time. The distinction being, in the earlier, obvious bluff situations, the other players are suspicious of your motives, where as here, they are far less likely to be. This is a very important point because if the hounds smell blood you could be bluffing all your money away…