How to bluff in poker tournaments

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How to bluff in poker tournaments


In modern times, poker is all about the tournament. Whether it's watching poker on television, playing online poker, or playing in a live casino, the poker tournament and its promises of fame and fortune reign supreme, not least when it comes to Texas hold'em. Scores of poker enthusiasts watched Jamie Gold win $12 million as the 2006 WSOP champion, and every one of them imagined what it would be like to be in his spot the next year.

A winning tournament poker player needs to use a variety of poker weapons to accomplish his goals, and one of the most well known but often the most misunderstood of these weapons is the bluff.

Bluffing in tournament poker is similar to bluffing in a cash poker game. Your intent is to mislead opponents with your bet into believing you have a strong hand, thus getting them to lay down a stronger hand than yours and give you the pot. In tournament poker, however, the penalty for being wrong about a bluff can mean elimination from the tournament, which can make it an even more powerful weapon for the bluffer.

When you bluff in a poker tournament, it should always be for a good reason. Good reasons include sensing weakness in an opponent, being in late position where fewer players are likely to challenge your bluff, and having played tight for some time to set up an image that makes it seem that you would not bluff. You'll probably need to pull off one or two nice bluffs to win a poker tournament, but moving in fanatically on every pot is a recipe for disaster when you play poker.

When you do decide to bluff in a poker tournament, make sure that your bluff makes sense. If you've been calling all the way on a board with an obvious flush or straight draw, then make a huge overbet when a blank comes on the river, opponents are likely to be suspicious. Similarly, betting big to represent a runner-runner flush or that you made trips from bottom pair on the river is not likely to convince a savvy opponent. On the other hand, if you've been calling all the way on a board with an obvious flush or straight draw and then make a pot sized bet when a scary card comes on the river, someone just might lay down their aces up to your middle pair.

If you never bluff, you will have a hard time winning any poker game. To win, you must accumulate all the chips, which means you must pick up more than your fair share of pots. Some pots are just sitting out there waiting to be stolen, and if you want to win, you need to be the one to do it. Additionally, if you only bet strong when you are strong, smart opponents may catch on and not give you action on your good hands. You shouldn't bluff recklessly, but leaving this tactic out of your bag of tricks could be a fatal mistake.

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