playing poker

Tip 49 Bluff in limit

Although it may appear that successfully bluffing in low limit hold’em is a next-to-impossible endeavor, you can take advantage of some opportunities.  Here are some dos and don’ts to guide you as you prepare to steal:


  Do bluff against two opponents or fewer.  Often in situations against only one or two players, neither or your opponents has much of a hand.  Often both have been on draws that never materialized.  As your hand-reading skills develop, you will learn when bluffs have the greatest chance of success, and you can limit your attempts to those times.
  Do bluff when scare cards hit.  We discussed this in Tip 38, but it is worth repeating.  A bluff has a much better chance of success if your opponents can fold confidently.  Bluffing when a random card comes often leads to calls out of curiosity as much as any other reason.  However, when the fourth card of a suit appears, or the fourth consecutive card to a straight, or possibly when the board double-pairs, it should seem pretty obvious what you hold if you bet.  Now, your opponents can fold, convinced not only that they are beat, but also of how it happened.

  Do bluff when an aggressive player shows weakness.  Aggressive players tend to bet when they have anything at all (and sometimes when they don’t).  So, if they check, it often means that they have given up on the hand.  Although they may be checking something like middle pair (which they will call you with), it is probably worth a shot to bluff in this spot, as you know they can’t have too much.


  Don’t attempt to steal multiway pots.  Someone nearly always calls a bet when five or more players are in the hand.  Your opponents often realize that a stronger hand is required to win in this situation; consequently, they may choose to check and call with all but their best hands.
  Don’t bluff behind a passive player’s check.  Passive players check hands that aggressive players routinely bet for value.  So, don’t make the mistake of interpreting a passive player’s check as a sign of weakness.  Rather, it’s just an indication that he does not hold the nuts.  It certainly doesn’t mean you won’t get called, though, so save your bluff for a better time.
  Don’t bluff when chronic calling stations are in the pot.  These players often call with next to nothing.  If you are the one holding nothing, then a calling station’s hand will win.  You are throwing away money if you try to bluff these guys.

Tip 50 Bankroll

This tip is here for encouragement, although the wording may not appear to be uplifting.  Tilt is a poker player’s enemy when it happens to him, and friend when it happens to other players in the game.  You can use tilt to your advantage by not falling victim to it, even though your opponents do.

  What is tilt?  Quite simply, tilt occurs when a run of bad luck causes a player to make irrational decisions in a poker game, letting emotion guide him instead of reason.  Tilt can be instigated by Poker Turn of a single unfortunate card, or as the culmination of a two-week streak of bad luck.  Each player has a different  “tilting point,” and it is important to recognize your own.
  Unfortunately, it is often extremely difficult to admit to yourself when enough is enough.  If you insist on staying in a game after you have reached your tilting point, you are likely to “tilt off” a significant number of chips to your undeserving opponents.  Any player who is able to admit to himself when he is emotionally unfit to play further, perhaps due to some bad luck in the game, and is strong enough to stand up and leave, is way ahead of the competition.

  A true understanding of the nature of poker is one of the best ways to avoid going on tilt.  You should realize that this game has an incredible amount of short-term luck, allowing less skilled or even poor players to win improbably for extended periods of time.  Don’t be discouraged by this, though; rather, realize that his is the lure for the weaker players.  If the best players always won, there wouldn’t be any poker games.  The losers would take up War or some other game in which they had a fighting chance.
  Every poker player at one time or another endures a seemingly endless bad streak in which his A-A or K-K never seems to hold up, his A-K is consistently greeted with a flop of 7-8-9, and his J-J is pummeled by a flop A-K-5.  What you must realize when this is happening to you is that you are not alone.  This is simply part of the inevitable statistical deviations in the game.  It will happen to you just as surely as it happens to everyone else at one time or another.  By the way, it is generally not recommended to share your pain with your neighbors in a poker game.  Although they may pretend to lend  a sympathetic ear, they aren’t really listening .  They are simply waiting for a pause into which they might insert their own tales of woe.*

  You must remember that poker is a long-run proposition.  It is of key importance that you play correctly in all situations, even on days when nothing is going right.  If you give in and start “playing like them,” you will just lose more money.  Regardless of how well you play, though, you will have some losing days.  It should be your goal to walk away from these losing sessions saying to yourself, “ I lost $ 100 today, but any other player would have lost $ 300.”
  Striving for perfect play, rather than perfect results, should ultimately help you to avoid going on tilt.  If you can come to terms with the fact that occasionally someone will hit a 40-to-1 draw on you, you will be better equipped to handle the swings of the game.  Focus on what you can control, and you will maintain the emotional balance necessary to beat the game.  And, if you feel that balance slipping away, quit the game for the day, week, or month – until you have regained your composure.

* These are called bad-beat stories:  No one wants to hear yours, and you won’t want to hear those of others.