Successful bluffing involves, usually, a combination of ingredients to be successful. Ideally, you'd want to have some value to your hand, some possibility that your hand might improve on future cards, timid and tight opponents, and good scare cards. But I'm not going to focus on any of those items in this column. Instead, I'm going to look at something less tangible - something you can't touch - but something that is ultimately very important and something you can actually do something about. I'm going to look at your image in the mind of your opponent.
As we continue on our journey of discovery about poker and ourselves let's see what we're made of in this installment. Have you ever been running bad and asked yourself the question, "How can I be losing?". It's usually not just the losing that prompts this question because, as poker players, we know that you don't win in every single session.
I was up about three hundred dollars in a no-limit game, one and two dollar blinds. I decided to play a K, 9 of hearts. The flop is Q, 2, 10 of heats. I flopped a King high flush, this should be easy money. A guy bets twenty-five bucks, everyone folds, I call. I'm thinking, I'll call him the entire way and then raise all in at the end. Turn comes another ten and the river is a four. The guy bets and I go all in, just like planned and get called ha, ha, ha.
LindaMae is twenty-something and blonde. Attired in shorts and a tight tank top in summer, she has all the attributes of girldom and then some. She plays low-limit Hold'Em at my local casino and does well at it, picking off bluffs thrown at her by men addled by her good looks. She's not stupid, far from it, but she's hopeless at math, so it's understandable that she asked me why she never flopped a Flush, and so seldom a good Flush draw.
As mentioned two weeks ago, the histories of Indiana and Illinois gambling are intertwined. Many riverboat casinos along Lake Michigan are considered to be Chicago-area tourist attractions, but several reside across the state line, in Indiana. It gets even more confusing when you consider that East Chicago is an Indiana city.
Not as bad as having two Kansas Cities across the state line from each other, but it's getting there. Gambling in Indiana had an auspicious beginning.
Today I will begin by asking a simple question. It is your turn to act. You have two low cards. A possible draw to the second nut low, perhaps a deuce and trey. Should you call?
The answer to this question depends upon a number of factors including, to name a few:
a. Are you in the blinds?
b. What is your position in relation to the blinds?
c. How many players before you have called?
d. Has the pot been raised or re-raised?
e. Is the game loose or tight?
April 5, 2004
As we continue to search out elements of our play that might be more closely examined for possible weakness in order to set a goal for improvement, let's discuss overcalling. To overcall is to call a bet that a player or players to your right have already called.
In May of 2004, almost 2600 poker players put down $10,000 in order to take their shot at becoming World Champion at the World Series of Poker. Anyone who even remotely follows poker knows that it was Connecticut patent attorney, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer who took home the the top prize, $5,000,000. ESPN was on hand to film this grueling seven day event, which is available in a three DVD set.
If I told you that one of the keys to poker success is to make good calls, you'd just yawn and say, "Who didn't know that."
Well, what if I told you that one of the keys to poker success was to make bad calls? You wouldn't yawn then, would you?
Well, that's what I'm telling you. My column today is about how to make bad calls profitably. It's actually a lecture that I delivered years ago on the Internet.
And, by the way, I'm not just talking about making calls with hands that are likely to lose, but the pot's so darn big you've just got to do it. I'm talking about something else.