In this introduction to the fabulous world of poker deception, we’ll look at two concepts that even beginners should learn to master: bluffing and slowplaying. Remember that playing poker is like working for the CIA: the better you are at misleading those around you, the more effective you’ll be at doing your job.
Contrary to popular belief, bluffing is almost useless in low-limit games (anything less than $2-$4). It’s rare that people won’t call all the way to a showdown, so there’s really no point in scaring people out of the pot. Bluffing should be reserved for higher-limit play. Think of bluffing as something you save for the bigger occasions.
When you play at higher limits, it’s best to bluff when you “represent” something, and when there’s only one or two opponents in the pot. Two examples of this: betting at the flop with a high card on the board “represents” a pair; raising when a flush is possible “represents” a flush. Although there’s a lot of in-depth stategy to bluffing in poker, it’s best to start small and gain more confidence with each success.
What is slowplaying? Slowplaying means deceiving your opponents into thinking you have less of a hand than you actually do. Say, for example, you hold a pair of kings. The flop shows another king and a pair of 3’s. That means you’ve flopped a full house—congratulations! There’s no need to scare people out of the pot, because it’s unlikely someone will beat your hand. Instead, you should wait until the turn or maybe even the river to jam the pot with bets and raises. This way, you’ll maximize the advantage you have with that special hand.
There are two basic conditions for when to slowplay:
1. You hold a whopper and there’s almost no chance of someone drawing out on you.
2. You’ll only get action if some other cards come out that will improve your opponents’ hands—but those cards still aren’t good enough beat what you’ve got.