Tactics of executing bluff, in poker, are extremely important

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In a previous column, we discussed the strategy of bluffing. I made mention of the best tactic to be successful.

Let me emphasize: If you want to be successful at bluffing in any game of poker, it’s not enough to just bet or raise. Your tactics – how you execute your bluff – are extremely important.

That reminded me of a letter I received about two years ago from GT reader Mark Gurniak who, at the time, dealt and played poker in Las Vegas. He provided a very profound message worth retaining.

Referring to the Esther Bluff, Mark made an interesting analogy. He was familiar with the origins of the Esther Bluff tactic (that’s an interesting story in itself), and suggested an appropriate parallel: “It reminds me of people trying to beat a lie detector. There’s really one way…‘It’s not a lie if you believe it!’” Food for thought.

Probing further

Most poker experts say you cannot bluff in limit games, especially the lower-limit ones. That may be one reason so many players are moving to no-limit games where large or all-in bets can better force out opponents with marginal hands, making it easier to bluff.

Of course, the consequence to being caught in your bluff attempt may be devastating to your bankroll. Actually, simply making a huge bet doesn’t take much skill, though it may take lots of courage.

In limit poker, you can’t use huge bets as “a weapon in your arsenal.” Instead, to be successful in bluffing in limit games, it is essential to use all the tools available to you. That includes a bluffing tactic. 

As Mark indicated earlier, your tactic must be designed according to the concept: “It’s not a lie if you believe it” – and your opponents, in turn, must become convinced. Recent research in Israel has proven there are brain waves that actually send out information.

In our case, it’s the brain waves on which our bluffing tactic message must be transmitted to the receptor – the opponent(s) you seek to convince. Once your opponent is convinced his hand cannot beat yours, he responds by folding, thus leaving the pot for you.

More proof

Just in case you have any doubts, here’s an experience Mark recounted while he was dealing $2-$4 low-limit hold’em in Las Vegas. He labeled this a “real world” example: “One of the ladies did the Esther Bluff without realizing it! She held J-Q. The flop came 8-10-8.

She bet the whole way, mistakenly thinking the flop was 8-10-9 making her a straight. (Happens!) But her confidence, despite her mistake (she wasn’t aware of it), got everyone else to fold, including two players who had her beat!” Then he added, “I smiled and thought of you.” Mark’s message is loud and clear. The Esther Bluff works in every variety of poker, including low-limit hold’em. To go one step further, combine the Esther Bluff with the Hold’em Algorithm, and you are bound to be able to go home a winner – even after the casino takes its rake. (Note: See ad in GT for a special deal involving the Hold’em Algorithm.)

If you would like to learn about the Esther Bluff tactic for effective bluffing, e-mail me at [email protected] I’ll even include the Richard B. Reverse Tell.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher of poker in West L.A., is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame.

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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