How to Win with a Bad Hand

HOW TO BLUFF You better make the whole story add up. It's kind of like when you are trying to get away with the perfect murder and you are dealing with the perfect detective. One little flaw in your story and you get caught. You have to convince yourself at every level that you have a good hand, and then act as if you believe it. How would a person with a good hand act here? Certainly a person with a good hand wouldn't throw his chips into the pot, sit up tall in his chair, and stare down his opponents. Those are are classic novice mistakes. What you need to do is find a neutral state., not overly strong and intimidating, not overly weak and passive-looking.
WHEN TO BLUFF In general, amateurs try to bluff too often. I would say that one out of 10 hands is about right. If you are playing in your home game and you are going to bluff, say, five times in a night, try to bluff earlier in the evening. Then you can play more conservatively later on and focus on the good action. It can be harder to bluff late in the game anyway, because people are being aggressive, trying to get back even.
WHEN NOT TO BLUFF A cardinal sin, and top pros do it all the time - I've done it - is to try and bluff the unbluffable. There is always that one guy in the game who is a bad player and he just doesn't fold. You know he's playing garbage, but, damn it, you're going to make him fold even if you have garbage too.
HOW TO MAKE IT PAY Even if you bluff with the right frequency you will eventually get caught. Remember who was in that pot,who was paying attention, and then use that knowledge to your advantage. Next time you have a great hand, let him think you're bluffing again so they'll bet high against you. Then collect the money.

"Poker Professor" Howard Lederer is a two-time Wold Poker Tour Champ


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Just in time, I'm playing this weekend. :)