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I have often written – and lectured – about the Esther Bluff, the most powerful tactic to use when bluffing (if you want your bluff to succeed more than break-even).

When I first introduced the tactic after my now 15-year-old granddaughter, Esther Fayla Epstein, created it about four years ago, the identifying title was displayed in print within quotation marks: “The Esther Bluff.”

As it became more familiar to winning poker players (fortunately most have not yet learned of it!), we stopped using the quotes: It became simply the Esther Bluff – no quotation marks.

In my experience, the Esther Bluff works for me over double the break-even, which I estimate to be about a third of the time. That makes it a big winner.

By the way, in using this tactic, I recommend you do not try to bluff out a “calling station.” And, it is a lot easier to bluff out one opponent than several at the same time – although it has worked for me against four opponents.

In fact, there are times when the Esther Bluff has been the margin of difference between a winning vs. losing session. Just recently, during the first hour of play, the cards were “so cold” that the only hand I won was an Esther Bluff.

It was a good size pot so it brought me almost even up to that point in time. I should add, despite what some “experts” have said, the Esther Bluff works very well in low-limit games as well as higher stakes.

Sliced to Esther?

Arizona Stu is a top poker player in hold’em cash games in Arizona and also in the Chicago area where he divides his time, along with his beautiful wife Sarah and their family. We often communicate about poker and other items of mutual interest (like politics and world events, and how best to grow older).

The other day, I got an e-mail from Arizona Stu in which he wrote about the Esther Bluff – and he referred to it as the Esther. Just one key identifying word: Esther.

He wrote about using the Esther to win a big hand in a high-limit cash game at one of the local casinos in the Scottsdale area where he has his winter home. To me, that additional familiarity denotes increased acceptance of this tactic for bluffing.

I told Esther about it. She smiled and nodded, modest kid that she is… (You should have seen her when she was interviewed about it on local TV.)

But I think I will continue to refer to that powerful tactic as the Esther Bluff.

The beauty of it all is that it is so simple. I believe many who have heard about it don’t make the effort – as little as it takes – to use it at the poker table for one reason or another.

(Since I have described the Esther Bluff several times, there is no need to repeat the description here.) I have seen a few of the poker celebrities on TV use it. (I won’t divulge their identities.)

In no-limit games, in addition to the Esther Bluff, a player also has the power of the BIG bet or “all-in” as a weapon when he’s bluffing. And I admit I have found using the Richard B. Reverse Tell, along with the Esther Bluff, to be extremely effective. They make a great team – even in low-limit games.

My thanks to Esther and Richard. In conclusion, I can only suggest you try it. You’ll like it.

NOTE: (For comments, questions you can reach “The Engineer” at [email protected])

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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