/ One of the greatest things about poker is that you don’t have to have the best hand to win the pot. You can win pots by betting where you don’t get called and it doesn’t matter what you have. Bluffing is an attempt to win the pot without the best hand.
Bluffing has been called an art and a science. Successful bluffing is a combination of common sense, good poker instincts, and ‘heart’. There is no better feeling or confidence booster in poker than pulling off a successful bluff. As all top players will tell you, it is very satisfying to ‘earn’ a pot (win a pot with the worse cards).
Common sense is pretty much self-explanatory. For example, it doesn’t make sense to attempt a bluff on the river in a $2-$4 game with three or four more players in the hand and $100 or so in the pot because somebody is going to call you for one bet. It also doesn’t make sense to bluff at a calling station.
Every hand that you play (and even the hands you aren’t involved in), you should be making an effort to ‘put your opponent(s) on a hand’. On every deal, you should be playing a game with yourself. That game is simply to guess what your opponents down cards are. The more you play this game, the better you will get at it. And the better you get at it, the more successful you will become at poker. (Incidentally, putting your opponent on a hand is the #1 skill in poker. It’s what separates the best from the rest.)
In golf, they say, “Trust your swing.” In poker, “Trust your instincts”. You will discover that your poker instincts will get better and better if you continually play the ‘guessing game’. After a while, you will begin to feel more confident in your abilities to be able to put your opponent on a hand (and the strength of it) or a draw. If you put your opponent on a draw during the hand and he bets at the river, you should go with your instincts and call him.
‘Heart’ is the ability to make a play at the pot when you don’t have a hand. You have to have heart to succeed at the highest levels. Your gut to tell you to bluff at certain times and you need to do it. But trust me, pulling the trigger in battle when you don’t have a hand is easier said than done. ‘Heart’ is the common trait in all great players.
One of my favorite poker stories about ‘heart’ happened years ago. It took place during Bob Stupak’s ‘America’s Cup of Poker’ (which was a prominent tournament that all the big-time poker players attended). The legendary Stu Ungar was playing in a $100/$200 blind NL Hold’em cash game. When he saw me walking by, he invited me to sit down and watch him play for a while. (It was always entertaining to watch him play.)
After I’d been there about 30 minutes, the following hand came up. Stuey was in the BB, had about $28k in front of him, and picked up the 8 6 . The player next to the button (with $20k in front of him) made it $700 to go. Everyone folded and Stuey called. The flop came J-10-4 rainbow. Stuey led out and bet $1200 on a stone bluff! His opponent called. The turn card brought the 2 . Stuey now bet $2500 (with no hand and no draw) and again his opponent called. On the river, a four came up to pair the board. Stuey continued his charade and fired $8000 at the pot! His opponent showed the A 10 and then folded.
As Stuey was raking in the chips, he leaned over to me and whispered, “A lot of guys will bluff at a pot and some will fire two shells, but there are not many guys who will fire three!” To bluff at a pot three times in a row takes a lot of heart and no one who has ever played poker had more heart than Stu Ungar.
Here are some simple tips to remember about bluffing: If you’re a low limit player, I would suggest you take the bluff and throw it out of your arsenal. (Save bluffing for big-bet poker and tournaments.) If you are going to bluff, don’t try to bluff bad players as they will call you. Pick out whoever you think is the best player at the table and bluff at them. They will lay down a hand. And one last thing – If you’re not getting called on the river once in a while, you’re not bluffing enough. If you’re always getting called, you’re probably bluffing too much.
You’re not going to get good cards all the time. Sometimes you have to earn your pots. Try bluffing.
Take care. Mike Sexton
Mike Sexton is the host of PartyPoker.com, a commentator on the World Poker Tour (which can be seen every Wednesday on the Travel Channel), and the author of ‘Shuffle Up and Deal’ (which made the NY Times Best Seller list and can be obtained at www.cardplayer.com).
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 04.04.2007.