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The Yoga of Bluffing

by Matt Matros |  Published: Jun 13, 2012


Matt MatrosThe allure of the bluff provides fascination and intrigue, but mostly for people who’ve never in their lives played poker seriously. Those of us with experience know that, because the pot provides an incentive for opponents to stick around, bluffs should be the exception rather than the rule. If you bluff more often than you value bet, your opponents will always have the pot odds to call you — and they will call you. But even though it’s not as sexy as the general public might think, the bluff is an absolutely essential element of our game. In fact, there would be no poker without it.

I’m often surprised then, to find so many intermediate and even semi-professional players who are utterly disdainful of the bluff. Don’t get me wrong — people love to bluff and win. But they absolutely hate to bluff and get caught. Especially in brick-and-mortar poker, risk aversion rules the day, and some players talk themselves out of bluffing for no better reason than that they’re afraid they might lose. This is the worst possible rationale for a play, as fear of losing is a death sentence in competitive poker.

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