Expectation And Hourly Rate The Fundamental Theorem Of Poker The Ante Structure Pot Odds Effective Odds Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds The Value of Deception Win the Big Pots Right Away The Free Card The Semi-Bluff Defense Against the Semi-Bluff Raising Check-Raising Slowplaying Loose and Tight Play Position Bluffing Game Theory and Bluffing Inducing and Stopping Bluffs Hands-Up On The End Reading Hands The Psychology of Poker Analysis at the Table Evaluating the Game

INDUCING AND STOPPING BLUFFS

The two preceding chapters demonstrated how, with sound judgment or game theory, a player who bluffs correctly gains a tremendous edge over his opponents.

In fact, given two games one with otherwise poor players who bluff approximately correctly and another with solid players who do not bluff you do better to play in the solid game.

When I started playing draw poker for a living in Gardena, California, I intuitively suspected I was better off playing in games with the typically tight Gardena players than in the looser games with players who played too many hands.

I realize now what the difference was. The tight players never bluffed, which was profitable for me, whereas in the looser games players were bluffing more or less correctly and that hurt me.

Good bluffing stategey is such a powerful weapon that it is important to develop tactics to keep your oppoments from blffing correctly.

Naturally you are not concerned about changing the habits of opponents who almost never bluff or bluff far too much.

But when you find yourself up against a player whose occasional blluffing keeps you on the defensive, you want to try to lead that opponent away from correct bluffing strategy.

You want to induce him to bluff more than he should or stop him from bluffing as often as he should.

Whether you try to induce a bluff or to stop a bluff depends upon your opponent. If you are playing against a relatively tight player who nevertheless seems to be winning too many hands without getting called, suggesting he may be stealing some pots, you want to stop him from bluffing.

That is, you want to push him away from optimum bluffing strategy to the point where he is afraid to bluff you at all.

On the other hand, you want to push an aggressive player who may be bluffing slightly more than optimally into bluffing even more.

In other words, against an opponent who seems to bluff a little more than is correct, induce a bluff and make that player bluff more.

Against an opponent who tends to bluff less than is correct, stop him and make him bluff even less.

In either case, you are stopping bluffs or inducing bluffs to make your opponents bluff incorrectly.

Most professional players are aware of the power of correct bluffing strategy, so they often try to induce bluffs or stop bluffs.

However, they sometimes forget an important principle: If you are trying to induce a player to bluff and that player bets, then you must call.

This principle is obvious, yet many go against it. If you try to induce a bluff and still fold when your opponent bets, all you may have succeeded in doing is helping that player bluff you out of even more pots than he otherwise would have.

Similarly, if you do something to stop a bluff and then call when your opponent bets, you would do better and catch more bluffs if you didn ’t try to stop his bluffing in the first place.

In other words, if you think your hand is worth a call after having tried to stop a bluff, it is crazy to have tried to stop the bluff.

You simply reduce the possible hands your opponent might have bet with and therefore the number of hands he might have that you can beat when you call.

These two principle regarding inducing and stopping bluffs should be self-evident. When you try to induce a bluff, you will always call if your opponent bets.

When you try to stop a bluff, you will always flod if your opponent bets. To do otherwise is completely counterproductive, and it would be better not to try to induce or stop a bluff in the first place.

ARTIFICIAL TECHNIQUES

There are two basic kinds of techniques to induce and stop bluffs – strategic techniques and artificial techniques. Artificial techniques are easier to understand.

They can be used only against average to slightly-above-average players, for they rarely work against tough opponents, who are likely to see through them fast.

An obvious ploy to stop a bluff is to reach for your chips as though you’re anxious to call. If your opponent still comes out betting, fully expecting you to call, you throw away you hand.

Of course, you have to use this play against the right player.

An   experienced player who sees you reaching for chips and suspects what you are up to is all the more likely to come out bluffing, fully expecting you to fold.

A ploy to induce a bluff is to give the impression you intend to fold your hand. Now if your opponent bets, you call.

But once again an experienced player who sees through the ploy might not bet without a good hand; realizing a bluff won ’t work, that player saves money when he or she has nothing.

There are several other artificial ploys – feigning disinterest in the hand to induce a bluff, feigning tremendous interest to stop a bluff – but they will not succeed often against top players. Against such players you must use stratgic tactics.

Strategic Techniques