Stop Making Huge Bluffs - How Not to Suck at Poker Ep. 7

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Published on 11 September 2014 by Pokerlistings 9664
In the latest episode of our beginner poker strategy video series How Not to Suck at Poker we show you why most of those huge bluffs you're attempting are costing you tons of money. Despite what a lot of people think, being good at poker isn't about pulling off huge bluffs every other hand. The way to win is by making less mistakes than your opponents, and a lot of the time when beginners are making big bluffs, it's a mistake. There are plenty of opportunities for betting and raising without a hand but most of these spots are about taking advantage of your position, or a big draw, opposed to putting lots of chips at risk with a huge stone-cold bluff. The important thing to remember is that it's better to make lots of simple bluffs that are likely to succeed, than to make one huge bluff for your whole stack where you're basically just praying for a fold. Quick bluffs refer to things like continuation bets and three-betting loose, late-position raisers. They're designed to take advantage of your position and what you know about your opponents, but they're not designed to lead to huge pots or all-ins. These are simple plays that stand a high chance of success. When you're betting and raising with a big draw that hasn't hit yet it's called a semi-bluff. Semi-bluffing is really important because it adds a lot of value to your draws by giving you two ways of winning the pot. Either your opponent folds to your semi-bluff and you win the pot uncontested, or you hit your hand and win a big pot at showdown. Stone-cold bluffs, or naked bluffs, are when you have no clear positional advantage and no hand value whatsoever. People seem to think that stone-cold bluffs are what poker's all about but the truth is, you'd be better off ignoring them completely. Until you're at a level where you can put your opponents on an exact hand and understand how to make them fold, you should focus on playing solid poker and not spewing chips by trying to get fancy.
Despite what a lot of people think, being good at poker isn't about pulling off huge bluffs every other hand. The way to win is by making less mistakes than your opponents and usually when beginners are making big bluffs, it's a mistake. There's plenty of opportunities for betting and raising when you don't have a good hand, but most of these spots are more about taking advantage of position or playing a big draw than just putting a bunch of chips at risk with a stone cold bluff. The important thing to remember is that it's better to make a lot of small simple bluffs that have a good chance of success as opposed to putting your whole stack on the line and basically just praying for a fold. Today we're gonna run down the three main kinds of bluffs, from lowest to highest difficulty.

Quick bluffs refer to things like continuation bets, and three-betting loose, late-position raisers. They're designed to take advantage of your position and what you know about your opponents, but they're not designed to lead to huge pots or all-ins. These are simple plays that stand a high chance of success. In Texas holdem it's often the case that nobody has a good hand and it's really important that you learn how to win your share of those pots, regardless of the cards you're holding. The critical part is to not get sucked into playing a huge pot just because you made one small bluff. Imagine you've raised on the button, gotten a call from the big blind and the flop comes down Ace, King, Queen. It's really important that your continuation bet a lot here whether you hit the flop or not.

Another example of a quick bluff is if you called in position and the flop came down something like King, King, Six. If everybody folds to you, there's a good chance you can pick up that pot with a bet, regardless of the cards you're holding. The important thing to remember is that in both examples, if your opponent starts check raising you, you need to be able to fold the hand.

There are also a lot of spots where you'll be playing a hand that isn't made yet but still has a great chance of becoming the best hand by showdown. When you're betting and raising a draw that hasn't hit yet, it's called a semi bluff. Semi bluffing is really important because it adds a lot of value to your draws by giving you two ways to win the pot. Either your opponents can fold to your semi bluff and you win the pot uncontested or you have a chance to hit your draw and win a big pot at showdown. Semi bluffing is also really important because it helps to balance your betting and raising ranges. You have to keep your opponents guessing and by betting and raising even when you don't have a made hand, they won't automatically know you have a monster when you do decide to put chips in the pot.

Stone cold bluffs or naked bluffs are when you have no clear positional advantage and no hand value whatsoever. People seem to think this is what poker's all about but the truth is you'd be better off ignoring them completely. Until you're at a level where you can put your opponent on an exact hand and understand all the factors that are gonna go into making them fold, it's better to just focus on playing solid poker and not spewing chips by getting too fancy.

In the next episode of How Not to Suck at Poker, we'll teach you how to keep your mouth shut at the poker table so you don't give away any important information.