Optimal Bluffing Frequency

What is the correct bluffing frequency? It is the frequency that makes it unlikely for your rival to know whether to call or fold. Arithmetically, optimum bluffing approach is to bluff in such a manner that the chances against your bluffing are equal to the pot odds your rivals are getting. Therefore, in case of the given example, the rival gets 6-to-1 from the pot; the opportunity against your bluffing must be 6-to-1. After that, rival would break even on the final bet by calling and folding every time. If the rival calls, he will lose $20 six times and will win $120 only once but if he folds, he will neither lose nor win anything. Except what your rival does, you average win an extra $100 every seven hands. On the other hand, arithmetically optimum bluffing approach is not essentially the best approach. It is good if you can judge when to try a bluff and when not to in order to earn large profit.

Assure that we agree what is meant by bluffing, we will mean by it as a bet or a raise with a hand which you do not guess to be the best hand. Two different categories are separated in bluffing. There is bluffing when there are more cards to come and when there are no more cards to come. Secondly, including in each categories, there is perceptive bluffing which is matter of this chapter, and mathematical bluffing will be discussed in next section.

Bluffs When there are More Cards to Come

Your bluffs should little be pure bluffs when there are more cards to come - which means bets or raises that have little or no chance of winning if you are called even considering the cards you can get in later rounds. As an alternative, your early round bets must be semi-bluffs, those strong, deceptive plays we discussed in detail in Chapter Eleven and Chapter Twelve. It is essential to bluff rarely on early rounds to make your rival off-balance. But when you have one or two ways of winning why you want to do it? If there is a pure bluff to work, your rival or rivals will fold definitely. A semi-bluff has three methods of winning as seen in Chapter Eleven. It may win since your rival has fold immediately; it may also win either because you chase a scare card that affects your rival to fold on a future round or because you make the best hand.

Thus, you should prevent your early-round bluffs and semi-bluffs; there is nothing to restrict you from trying to pure bluffs if you think that there is a good chance of getting away from it. If you believe your chances of getting away with it are more than the pot odds you are getting, then you should attempt and try it. The poker ante structure we discussed playing a game where specific players played too tight for the ante. There was $10 in antes and if these players are the only players in the pot, I knew I could bet $7 with nothing and had a good chance of stealing that $10. In that case my pot odds were less than 1 ½-to-1 but I even believe that I would get away with 60 percent of the time. Therefore, it was a beneficial play.

Even if you make a pure bluff on an early round and someone raises you, do not try to play it out. You have been caught. Because you have no out, you cannot even think about continuing further. Give it up, and try on with the next hand.

You frequently get called when you bluff with more exposed cards to come, and face a problem of deciding whether to continue the bluff on the next round or not. Therefore, when you bluff with a hand that likely cannot improve the best hand, you should compare your chances of getting away with it to your efficient odds if you plan to continue betting on later rounds even when you do not improve.

For example, if with two cards to come in $10-$20 game and there is $100 in the pot, you will have to bluff two times. If you think you will bluff two times, you take a risk $40 to win $120 - the $100 already in the pot plus the $20 your rival calls on the first round. Thus, when you make that first $20 bet, you should not think you are getting 5-to-1 from the pot. Instead, you are getting 3-to-1($120-to-$40). To make the play more beneficial, there should be better than 3-to-1 chance your rival will fold after the second bet. This is real in case of pure bluffs where you have no way of winning by improving to the best hand.

Determining whether to continue with a semi-bluff truly rely on how the next card affects your chances and how your rival's card may have affected his. Each individual round should be estimated separately. Let's say you make a semi-bluff raise in seven-card stud with:

You may get called by a 9. Whether you should give up the bluff on the next round depends on what you chase, what your rival chases and also what sort of player your rival is. If with your A, K, 5 you move further to chase a queen suited with the king and your rival chases a deuce, you are forced to bet again; but if rival chases, suppose an 8 suited with the 9 and you chase a 3 give it up. Check and if your rival bets, give away the hand. Your chances have not improved and it seems that your rival has. He may have a flush draw, straight draw or just a pair of 9s, but anything he has, he looks like too much of a favorite for you to call when he bets.

You need to be experienced to know when to give up on a bluff and when to chase it. When your first bet is called, assume that your rival has something. If you feel he is getting stronger and you cannot improve, the only thing to do is give it up. However, if you feel he is weak and will stay weak and if you think he thinks you are strong, continue the bluff and expect to drive him out.

Bluffs When All the Cards are Out

You definitely can no longer semi-bluff when all the cards are out. Either you have made your hand or you haven't. Therefore, all the bluffs are pure bluffs on the end. There are bets or raises that you cannot hope to win if you are called.

When you sit there knowing you have the worst hand, knowing neither you can win by checking nor by calling your rival's bet, the only problem is whether to bluff or not. You must not if you think the chances your rival will call are too huge with regards to the pot odds you are getting. You must if you think the chances your rival will fold often for a bluff to show a profit. If there is $100 in the pot, you can make a $20 bluff if you think your rival will fold more than once in six times. If there is $60 in the pot, you must presume your rival will fold more than once in four times before you want to bluff. If there is $140 in the pot, you rival should fold more than once in eight times. But, the bigger the pot, the better pot odds your rival is getting to call your bet and the more possible it is he will call with any kind of a decent hand.

Correct evaluation of your chances of pulling off a bluff comes, like so many progressed poker plays, only with experience. You should be able to read hands. You will definitely not bluff out a rival with a lock or any sort of big hand. In general, the weaker you think your rivals hand is, the bigger the chances your bluff will work.

The second thing is that you should be able to judge rivals. Normally, it is not difficult to bluff a retiring rival than a loose rival and normally, neither difficult to bluff a tough rival than a weak who needs a reason to call including your possibility of bluffing. However, before deciding whether to try a bluff you should think your particular rival in every circumstance. Even the way where the play advanced poker in previous hands may rely on whether the bluff at present is right or not.