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Bluffing

Just like all poker games, bluffing plays a big part of hold em. This is very true of no limit hold em though bluffing isnt really as worthwhile in low limit hold em as most players will call your hand regardless.

To bluff is to bet or raise the betting aggressively while holding a hand that is likely to be inferior, hoping that all other players will fold and award you the pot without a showdown. To bluff on one round with an inferior hand that might become a much better one by chance in a later round is often called a semi-bluff.

Don't be predictable. If you always bluff in certain situations, your opponents will figure this out and start calling more. If you never bluff, they'll figure that out too and stop calling your non-bluff bets (which is a bad thing--even though you might win the hand, you will fail to win the amount of their call). The exact ideal bluffing frequency in each game situation is a complicated exercise in Game theory that you won't be able to solve at the table, so you may have to rely on rules of thumb, prior analysis, experience, and intuition. It also helps to have a randomizing device: for example, if your analysis or experience leads you to believe that you should bluff half of the time in a certain situation, use a device such as the color of the last card dealt, or the second hand on your watch, to make the choice.

Bluffs are more successful with fewer people in the pot. Against only one or two opponents, your chances are good that no one has a hand good enough to call. Against three or more opponents, at least one of them probably does, so bluffing is unlikely to succeed. There is also social pressure to "play sheriff": if three people act behind you, and the first two fold to your bluff, the last player will feel more obligated to call because the others will complain if he doesn't. If you have only one opponent, he won't have that problem. Dont give in to this peer pressure though. Opponents will call or fold to a bluff based on their own hands more than based on their perception of yours (even though this is not correct strategy).

On the last betting round, if you have a hand that might be good but that isn't very strong, you're probably better off checking and then calling a bet by your opponent rather than bluffing. A player with a worse hand will probably not call if you bet, but your check might induce him to bluff, allowing your call to win more money. A player with a better hand than yours will almost certainly call, and may raise. You also don't need the protection of a bet. Value bet your strong hands, bluff with hands you're almost sure can't win any other way, and check the ones in between. A raise, and especially a Check-raise, as a bluff is more psychologically intimidating than just opening. Of course it also risks more of your money and makes the pot bigger (and therefore more likely to be called), so it must be used with care.



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