Who says you can't bluff in low limits poker?

Aug 25, 2009 5:10 PM
by George “The Engineer” Epstein |

Poker experts – some of the top players – warn us: "You can’t bluff in low-limit games. The bets are too small…"


Recently, at our Claude Pepper Sr. Center Poker Lab, my friend Bill Murphy, a professional no-limit poker player whom I much admire, was discussing low-limit vs. no-limit games and tournaments. During his talk, Bill repeated that oft-stated admonishment: "You can’t bluff in low-limit games." Apparently that is the perception among poker players. But it’s not so. It’s time to set the record straight.

You CAN Bluff in Low-Limit Games

Certainly it is easier to bluff in high- and no-limit games. You have the power of a big bet as a weapon to induce your opponent to fold when you are bluffing. But I must enlighten you: YES, you CAN bluff in low-limit games!

I’m living proof. I play $3-$6 and $4-$8 limits, and my bluffs work for me over 60 percent of the time. With break-even at 20-30 percent, you can readily see that bluffing is highly profitable for me.

I would agree with Bill if he had said that most poker players are unsuccessful in attempting to bluff in low-limit games. The key to success? Simply use smart tactics when bluffing, and consider each situation – if you want to succeed.

For me and my students, the Esther Bluff is a powerful tactic. (Considering that my granddaughter, Esther Fayla Epstein, created this tactic before she was 10 years old, it can’t be too difficult to employ.) Plus, Richard B’s reverse tell is a strong ally. (Richard is one of my top poker students.) And our Poker Lab jointly decided what to do with your eyes when bluffing.

Other Considerations

First of all, if you bluff too often, before long your opponents will be wise to you – and call whenever you try to pull off another bluff. We all know that you should not try to bluff a Calling Station; so you need to have a good understanding of how your opponents play.

Every hand is not suitable for bluffing. Each hand presents a different set of circumstances. Consider whether there has been heavy betting/raising preflop, or on the flop. It’s almost impossible to bluff on such a hand in low-limit; why try?

On the other hand, if the betting suggests weakness among your opponents, a bluff might be appropriate. You need not be a poker genius to realize that it is much easier to bluff against one opponent than against several. And, by all means, look for tells. Observe the players to your left before you decide to bluff. If they are tight or conservative players, and indicate that they are going to bet, bluffing would be ill advised.

I have discussed both the Esther Bluff and Richard B’s reverse tell tactics in other writings. So, for a limited time only, if any of you reading GamingToday drop me a note requesting info on those tactics, I’ll share these with you. But promise you won’t tell other poker players about these… Do you know why this is important?

You can contact George "The Engineer" at [email protected].