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Poker Strategies


Bluffing in Poker

Poker is more strategically advanced than most other casino games. Even though Internet Blackjack, for example, requires some tactical knowledge, Texas Holdem Poker and other poker forms are much more complex and demanding. Without an effective strategy you will find it very difficult to be a poker winner over time. This article contains advice on one of the key elements in poker, bluffing:

Without bluffs poker would be a rather dull game, with much less action and excitement. Bluffing is what separates real poker from Internet video poker, where your only aim is to make strong hands (you're not trying to beat other players). However, bluffs are not as common as you might think. All good poker players know that this type of move requires good timing. These are some factors to consider:

The size of the pot
Small pots are less desirable than big pots, and easier to win through bluffs. If the pot is big your opponents are more likely to see the hand down.

Number of opponents in the hand
The fewer the better. It's obviously to easier bluff one opponent than five opponents.

The cards on the board
The perfect situation to make a bluff is when there are no obvious draws on the board, and there is a scare card you can represent (for example an Ace or a King). If you think the cards on the board might have helped your opponents you should avoid bluffing.

Your position at the table
Late positions favor bluffing since you in these cases have more information about your opponent's hands.

Your table image
It's easier to make successful bluffs if you have a tight table. If you have been playing a loose game, and recently been caught bluffing, it will be more difficult.

The skill level of your opponents
It's difficult to bluff bad poker players since they often will call big bets with mediocre hands. Good players know when to fold, and will do so when if they think they're beat.

Advanced moves in Texas Hold'em

Poker players must be unpredictable to be successful. A straight forward game will only take you so far; if you want to reach the top level, you have to add some advanced moves to your repertoire. If you don't, it will be easy for your opponents to read you and take control of the game. These plays can be used in Internet poker as well as live games. Some examples of solid tactical moves in Texas Holdem:

The check-raise
This play is effective when you're sitting in early position with a really strong hand. Instead of leading out with a bet, you check in the hopes that another player will put some money into the pot. If that happens you raise. Not only does the check-raise help you take command of the hand and maximize your winnings, it's also an effective way to force drawing hands out of the pot. A player holding a gut shot straight draw, or overcards will probably find it too expensive to call your big raise.

The semi-bluff
On occasion you should make bets or raises even though your hand is not likely to be the strongest at the moment. You should use this play when you have many outs to make a winning hand, for example an open-ended flush draw. This is called semi-bluffing. If you don't win the pot right away you still have the chance to hit your draw. If you don't hit, your semi-bluff might give you a free a card on the turn or river.

The slow play
Slow-playing is when you disguise the strength of your hand. You check or call instead of betting or raising in order to make your opponents think that your hand is not that strong. You want to make them think they're in the lead and thus make them put as much money as possible into the pot. Then you make your move on the turn or river. This kind of play is frequently used on the flop in fixed limit games, since the bets are doubled in the following betting rounds. If you're able to slow-play successfully it will be worth more than any casino bonus you can find. However, you should keep in mind that slow-playing requires are really strong hand, and good timing. You should avoid this somewhat risky strategy when:

  • It's a large pot.
  • Many players are still in the pot.
  • A free card can give an opponents a stronger hand than your.
  • A free card is not likely to give another player a second-best hand.
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