Concentrating on Bluffing in Online Poker
In a recent article, we tried to simplify the idea of bluffing. Here Juicy Stakes Poker Australia will try to put all of our focus on the unique elements of bluffing in online poker. After all, since you can’t see your opponents, how can you be sure that they are bluffing?
Some poker players are not sure that there is a bluff on every hand. While there might be some hands where everyone folds to the big blind, and thus there is no bluff in those hands, we at Juicy Stakes also know that such hands are very, very rare.
Such a hand is almost impossible to happen in a low stakes game since as the betting gets closer and closer to the blinds, there is more likelihood that a player will call just to see the flop. And a bluff is made!
In higher stakes games, many players will make what we can call a strategic bluff. This is a call or raise on a hand that they would normally fold with. The singular purpose of a strategic bluff is to show the other players that you are fully capable of bluffing even with a poor hand.
And, as everyone knows, even a poor hand sometimes flops into the nuts!
Is a Strategic Bluff the Same as a Semi-bluff?
This is a question that demonstrates how poker talk can get overly complex! There isn’t a hard and fast definition of a strategic bluff nor is there a hard and fast definition of a semi-bluff!
We can call a bluff a strategic bluff when the goal is to win the pot with a poor hand. In that sense, almost all bluffs are strategic bluffs. The only true exception might be a check-raise where the check is a reverse bluff showing a relatively weak hand while that hand was actually quite strong.
However, if a player check raises with a poor hand, it is then a strategic bluff! The term semi-bluff usually refers to a hand that has a straight or flush draw. When there are two suited cards on the flop, any bet will automatically bring about thoughts in the minds of the other players that the bettor might have a flush draw.
Similarly, if the flop reveals the possibility of a straight, then this has to be considered as well.
How Can We Determine if it is a True Bluff or a Semi-bluff?
Here is where knowing your opponents comes into play. We have to pay attention to every hand and every player’s actions. When you play online, it is easy to keep a computerized track of all bets based on position, the cards on the table, the betting scheme, the size of the bets both in absolute numerical terms and in the terms of poker math such as pot odds and expected value.
To say that bluffing is both a major part of poker and at the same time a relatively minor part of poker would be quite accurate! We need to sense bluffs but we also need to analyze hands independent of bluffs. In poker there is always a lot to think about!
Let’s say that the flop came out with connected but unsuited cards. If any player bets, it might indicate the possibility of a straight or a crass bluff. What cards would this player have to have in the hole to make a true bet based on his or her straighting possibility? Would that player have stayed in the hand with such a holding? Did she bet from early, middle, or late position?
Has she called with similar cards in the past? All of these considerations go into determining if the bet was a true bet, a semi-bluff, or a genuine bluff!
The Lack of a Visual Means We Have to Improve Our Other Senses
We can’t see, we can’t hear, we can’t smell, we can’t taste, we can’t feel. What other senses are there? Well, we can develop what might be termed a sixth sense. It all comes down to observation and being aware of the many subtleties of every bet.
We have to imagine every bet as it transpires. The really great players can often, but not always, figure out what an opponent is doing because the really great players have a well-developed sixth sense.
Players who tilt do not have a well-developed sixth sense. They get fooled too often! This is a very salutary bit of information! A player who is prone to tilting will often give away a bluff even when the attuned opponent is thousands of miles away!
By the same token, a player who gets fooled often also gives away a lot of information to opponents even in online games.
Sensitize Yourself to Board Texture
This may be the up and coming term in poker after everyone has learned poker math, hand ranges, and other nuances common to modern poker analysis. Board texture is an attempt to achieve “feel” in an online game. It also applies observationally in games at a land based poker room.
We will devote an article to board texture since it is a concept that is amenable to most players especially those players who struggle with the mathematical side of poker.
Board texture refers to the feel of the cards on the board. It isn’t informatively more than the ideas we have talked about in the past or that others talk about. But it is a different way of looking at the same information.
This different way is the feeling we get from the board.
We will devote an upcoming article to this quite fascinating subject.
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