I knew a guy once with balls the size of garbage trucks he was a real wild man and he loved to play cards, but despite his swollen appendages he had another problem; he thought that the beauty of poker came in beating the odds or throwing big bucks on lost causes. He loved the idea that he’d either a) make a beautiful hand when the stars all aligned for him and the suited ten would drop into place giving him the royal flush and he’d sweep the pot. Or b) he’d fail to make the hand and instead would make a brave and audacious move and throw his cash into the pot where we’d all run in fear and he’d sweep the pot.
This guy was a great one to play poker against and while the odd time that his daring bluff worked (we always knew because he couldn’t resist flipping his cards over, to show the world just how wild and crazy he was had been) or when his long shot came in we’d hear about it forever, his victory hung in the air for the rest of the night and would float around every couple of weeks as we swapped war stories and he could never resist; “hey remember that time when I needed the Jack of Spades and…” I was always happy to keep inviting him back for our poker nights and equally happy to encourage his bravado and reminiscing. When he evoked his great wins the amount in the pot was never mentioned, and the reason for that was because the actual cold hard cash that he won at the table was insignificant compared, to the buzz and the thrill of his “gorgeous” hand or his wild man gambit. If any of you aren’t already aware of it, a gorgeous hand is best suited to self-love.
Bluffing is a part of Poker and virtually every player uses it at some point, that’s all fine. Some players will bluff more than others, and these guys tend to play a little fast and loose like my friend, they remain in more hands and it might look like he wins plenty of hands, but he’ll lose more chips to. The trick with bluffing is knowing when to do it.
It’s the most common adage that the barroom Einstein will trot out that you should play the player(s) not the cards. This is annoyingly true and in nowhere more so than when it comes to bluffing. The first thing you must do is asses your opponents before you start bluffing against them. You may have eyes of flint, nerves of steel and a bankroll in your pocket that would choke a Mexican donkey, but if you find yourself sitting down with a guy (like my friend) who will throw down big money on two pair or chase a pretty hand, then all the best academy acting in the world won’t do you any good. Work out if you CAN bluff the guys you’re playing against before you even try. The Bluff is somewhat akin to chemical weapons (it’s unpopular for starters) but it should only ever be used sparingly as its effectiveness can depend on a change in the wind’s direction