Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bluffing Is Hard For Some

I've discovered another anomaly in poker play. It seems to be simple for loose players to "tighten up", but it is so very difficult for many tight players to "loosen up". I don't mean it in such a way that a tight player couldn't limp 2 suiteds or raise K9 from UTG. Of course he could. I mean one simple word: Bluffing.

When I first started playing poker, I would consider my play then as pretty loose. But then my play became tinged with remembrances of major losses and perceived bad beats as I went along. As I learned how I should be playing, I went to the other extreme. I played tighter than a banjo string. I was being bluffed out of many, many pots as players learned my by-the-book style. When I did have a hand, the pot was rarely large. I wondered why I couldn't make much profit and why my losses were almost always larger than my wins.

After some serious analysis of my PokerTracker stats and some adjustment in my psychological approach to the game, I found out that there was something missing from my game. Especially my ring game play. I started to assess what I was willing to risk and my feel for each table. Better reads and more appropriate stakes. I found out that a player could know everything about every type of odds. But if he doesn't have the timing and feel for when and who to bluff, he will just be an educated but losing poker player.

There was a some talk on CardsChat recently about players who DON'T know odds. They just play by feel. While I do admire those who can play this way with some success, they are also missing the boat. But all these people have to do is pick up a poker book and maybe a calculator to complete themselves. In my opinion, they have it easier than the odds-without-feel players. I believe they would also excel more in live play once they complete their poker knowledge.

Anyway, my game is slowly coming around as I learn more about the feel and timing needed for correct bluffing. Also, I just happen to be reading the chapters in Sklansky's "Theory Of Poker" regarding bluffing. That is what prompted me to write this post. It's like finding that missing tool under the workbench. Now my cheap generic toolbox is complete. But someday, I'll step up and get a set of Snap-Ons. Cheers.

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