Poker Strategy With Jonathan Little: You Need To Start Bluffing!

Many novice poker players often fall into the trap of only betting when they hold a strong hand. They believe the key to winning lies in patiently waiting for a premium hand, then aggressively betting to capitalize on it, hoping for a big payout from unsuspecting opponents.

However, in reality, if you only bet significant amounts when you have a strong hand, savvy opponents will rarely pay you off unless they also happen to have a strong hand.

Consider a scenario where your opponent raises to three big blinds from middle position out of her 100 big blind stack, and you are the only caller on the button. The flop comes 8 7 4, and your opponent bets four big blinds into the 7.5 bb pot.

Some players might only raise in this situation with specific strong hands like 6-5, 8-8, 7-7, 4-4, or 8-7. While raising with these premium hands isn’t inherently wrong since it’s unlikely your opponent has a better hand, she can easily fold her entire range, resulting in no value for you.

To address this issue, incorporating bluffs into your strategy is essential. Optimal bluffing hands are those that also have the potential to improve to a strong hand on the turn or river, such as flush draws and straight draws.

Striving for balance, you should raise with approximately twice as many semi-bluffs as value hands. This balanced approach keeps your opponents guessing and maximizes your opportunities for profit.

In this scenario, along with raising with your strong hands, consider raising with draws like 10-9, K-6 suited, 5-4 suited, and flush draws.

If you have a tight image, your opponent may make the mistake of folding too often, assuming you only raise with premium hands. Conversely, if your opponent tends to call frequently, you can exploit this by extracting value with your strong hands and completing draws by the river.

After betting the flop and your opponent calls, it’s often prudent to continue betting on the turn with most of your range. This keeps your opponent uncertain about the strength of your hand, making you difficult to play against. The same principle applies to the river.

Crucially, develop a strategy where your actions aren’t easily interpreted as strong or weak. Keeping your opponents guessing increases the likelihood of them making mistakes, ultimately leading to more favorable outcomes for you.

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