Maximizing Your Poker Winnings With A Strong Hand Bluff
Most poker players, regardless of their experience level, know about bluffing when they’re holding nothing. Fewer understand the power of bluffing when they’ve got a terrific hand. The idea is to keep opponents in the hand (and putting chips in the pot) for as many rounds as possible.
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A lot of novice poker players get so excited when they realize they’re holding a great hand – 3-of-a-kind, a full house, straight, flush, or better – that they get ahead of themselves in their zeal to win that hand. Keeping your emotions in check is the first goal. Don’t give your opponents any indication that you’re holding a hand you’ve waited for all night.
Bet Conservatively Early On
Always remember that your early bets often tell opponents how strong your hand is. Just as an early fold indicates a weak hand, an early big bet is usually a dead giveaway that you think you’ve got a hand that will be very tough to beat. What happens if you give that away too early? That’s right – the rest of the table will bail out, leaving you a relatively small pot. You will have just wasted a prime opportunity to haul in an impressive load of chips!
Instead, act as though your hand is just ok. Good enough to stay in the game, but not strong enough to come out firing. Experienced poker players can spot a weak player instantly by how strong their early bets are. They’ll own you the rest of the night if you give it away.
So, bluff with your strong hand. Keep your bets minimal by checking or calling bets for a round or two. If you raise, do so modestly. Again, the idea is to keep as many opponents in the game as possible by giving them hope early on. The more that stay in, the bigger your winnings will be when you spring the trap.
Poker is a Study in Human Psychology
This is all about human psychology. Poker players feel invested in the game if they’ve stayed in long enough to bet a couple of times. One of the hardest things to do is to be disciplined enough to fold after you’ve called or raised bets. Watch the pros, and one of the first things you pick up on is that they may not like folding late in a game, but they’ll do it to avoid losing even more money.
Most amateurs let their egos get in the way and will stay in games beyond the point where their rational minds are screaming at them to bail out. You can use this to your advantage when you have a strong hand by springing the trap late in the game. Draw the opponents in by betting conservatively, then raise.
Here’s what will happen about as often as not. Your early modest betting will convince others to stay in the hand. Then, when you suddenly raise later, some of your opponents will assume you’re bluffing to get them to fold. One or two may stay in to the bitter end, simply because they’re betting that you’re bluffing. Even if they do all fold, the fact that you got them to stay in earlier means you’ll haul in a lot more chips!
A note of caution: don’t try this tactic every time you have a strong hand, or pretty quickly your opponents will figure out your pattern. Mix it up to keep your opponents guessing. This is true with all poker tactics, but it can really pay off nicely with the strong hand bluff!