If you get caught bluffing you lose, but if you don’t get caught it is The greatest feeling in poker.
Anyone can win with four aces, but to win with rags takes more than luck, it takes a keen sense of timing, a good read, the right position, and the ability to play the hand like it is something, without over playing it. Of course a little luck doesn’t hurt either.
There are several different bluffs including the semi bluff and the power bluff.
The semi bluff is when you really don’t have anything yet, but you do have several outs. This is a hand you can play like it is something, semi bluffing, but knowing that you might catch enough to win.
The most famous semi bluff was by Doyle Brunson, not only once, but twice. In both the 1976 and 1977 “World Series of Poker”, both years he played 10 – 2 in the final hand (probably one of the worst hands in Texas Hold’em), both years he caught a little something on the flop, and both years he filled to a full house to win back to back championships.
The power bluff occurs primarily in no limit tournaments where you have a substantially larger amount of chips than your opponent. You then make bets too large for him to call. Even if he knows you have nothing he doesn’t have enough to make the call without risking his tournament life; of course you better have a good read on his hand so you know he won’t call.
However the full out bluff is the one of beauty.
This play takes perfect timing, with a good read on your opponent. Then you have to be in position to bet it accordingly, making your hand look like something without over playing the hand. Sometimes you can accomplish this with a check raise, sometimes with a pot size bet or re-raise, this really depends on the read you have of your opponent. These moves are instinct moves, and like anything else the more you learn and the better you gauge the situation the more success you will have.
When your opponent folds; you have pulled off the coup de grâce.
And of course the temptation is to show your hand so everyone will know what a brilliant play you just made. But think that through, more times than not, if you show, someone will get a read on you.
However showing your cards is entirely up to you, depending what you want, not only your opponent, but everyone else at the table as well to think and/or do next time.
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