Bluffing while playing poker is definitely an art

In recent columns, we discussed the Art of Bluffing. If you play much poker, it’s almost certain you have been the object of a bluff and/or tried to bluff out an opponent. We have addressed a number of key topics related to bluffing:
• What is bluffing?
• The right way to bluff.
• Two key tactics essential for successful bluffing.
• The Esther Bluff.
• Don’t bluff too often.
• Consider your opponents’ playing traits.
• Semi-bluffing
• How often does your bluff need to succeed to be profitable?
• Your image can help.
• Is your opponent trying to bluff you out?
• Tells to avoid.
• Be sensitive to situations that offer you the most potential for bluffing.
• Setting the stage for your bluff.
• Yes, you CAN bluff in low-limit games.
Betting a weak hand to force out an opponent holding a better hand is the most common form of bluffing. But, consider that bluffing is really deceiving another person by using pretense. There are other other forms of bluffing that can be profitable.
The check raise: On the turn, you get lucky and catch a monster hand – almost certain to win the pot! Perhaps it is the nuts. If you bet out from your early position, several opponents are bound to fold. You cannot win their chips if they are out of the hand.
With an aggressive player (call him Joe) just to your left, your check (no bet) may induce him to make the big bet on the turn. Knowing the type of player he is, other players call his bet. Now the betting is back to you. Should you just call or raise?
This is an ideal spot to raise the bet. All those who had called Joe’s bet, will call your raise – assuming it’s reasonable. In a limit game, the raise is only equal to the previous bet. With so much money already in the pot, your opponents will invest one more “small” bet to see the river, hoping it makes their hands.
That was easy. So long as you’re sure an opponent will make the bet for you, your check-raise can win more chips for you. But, if there is no one behind you who you can depend on to make the bet, it is wise to make the bet yourself and hope for a few callers.
Sandbagging: Now and then, you will get lucky and flop a monster. Suppose you saw the flop with A-10 hearts. The flop brings three more hearts, giving you the nut flush! With no pairs on the board, there is little likelihood anyone could make a full-house. (It’s still possible.)
First of all, be careful not to give your opponents any tells. (We discussed typical tells in an earlier column.) The more opponents staying in the pot, the more likely you can build a monster pot. With three hearts on the board, most of your opponents would fold to a bet on the flop. After all, they don’t have much invested in this hand.
Assuming it’s checked to you, simply follow suit: “check.” If anyone bets, just call – no raising here. Furthermore, if you were to bet, those opponents who – for whatever reason – call your bet, would be on the alert. They suspect you have the flush or, at least, a good draw to it.
Consequently, unless their hands develop and show much promise, they are prone to fold to a bet on the turn. That means fewer chips in the pot for you to win.
If there is no betting on the flop or turn (everyone just checks along), you must bet on the river, hoping for a few callers.
Re-raise as long as no one could have a full-house (or a straight flush). A sly opponent might think you’re trying steal the pot, and call you if no one raises before him.
You have slow-played this hand, not raised (or even bet) with a powerful hand in order to trap your opponents. That’s often called “sandbagging.” You are being deceptive, concealing the strength of your hand. It’s another form of bluffing.

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