Bluffing In Poker – You can't bluff bad players

This was published 15-06-2009

Reasons Players Bluff

Players bluff for all sorts of reasons.  There are players who are masterful with their bluffs, playing the hand the whole way through with the intent of taking the pot.  They decided before they got their cards that this would be their pot.  They didn’t need to actually look at their hand to determine how they would play.  A person who is playing like this is very dangerous at the poker table.

There are players who hit the nut flush draw on the flop, attempt to draw other players in, because they believe they will get a big payday.  But on the river, no flush and no pair have materialized, they find themselves too deep in the pot to release, and often will throw money at the pot to buy it.  This type of player is usually found at your weekly game. We all know this player, and usually don’t respect a big raise on the river when it looks like they just missed their draw.  You want these players on the table. (mainly because they believe they are good players, can recognize a bluff and will fold sometimes.)

Then, there is the noob.  He’s the guy who just started playing and drinks a lot at the table.  He will bluff indiscriminately just to see if he can get away with it.  He doesn’t know how to use a bluff.  He doesn’t know when he’s being bluffed, and is typically a calling station.  I personally never bluff at players who don’t realize that by betting your saying to your opponent “my hand is better.”  Their game is such that they want to see their pair of 77′s take down the pot, even though there are 3 hearts, and 2 over cards on the flop..those 7′s are going to win the pot.  And if you’re bluffing at the guy, they likely will.

Why can’t you bluff a bad player?

I’ve thought long and hard about this.  A bad player isn’t interested in what your holding.  They’ve read the books. They know that some guy named Doyle wrote the supersystem, and that he’s a rich man, and that he says you play the player not the cards.  But look at that flop! Look at it! I’ve got a 9, and there’s a 9 on the board, and if another 9 hits, I’ll have 3 of them! I may as well call.  Oh, no…no 9 on the turn. hmm.. Well, I’ve gone this deep, i may as well see the river.  Well, i made 2 pair with that 2 on the river, maybe I’m good.

And you know what? they are good.  Because you were holding AK, and an ace hit on the flop.  But because he wasn’t thinking about what you were potentially holding, he was blinded by the excitement of pairing up.  It’s crazy, but it’s true.

The example above isn’t a bluff, it’s true, but it is the reason you can’t bluff a bad player.  If they hit any part of that board, they are going to be interested in seeing the river.  And if they see the river, they are typically “too deep” into the pot to let it go.  They will call with a crappy pair.  They will call with bottom pair.  The best thing you can do in a situation like this is recognize a bad player, and use it to your advantage.  Pray they hit their mid pair, and give them the opportunity to get all their money in.  But make sure you’ve got a strong hand on the river…cuz you never know what they could be holding.

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