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Poker Diaries : The Art of Bluffing - A Noob's Guide to the Poker Land

The Koi is back!

Now that I have learned to compartmentalise poker players, I must say that I am really enjoying myself. No huffs, no whining, no getting irritated.... just play the hands you are dealt! How you call, judge, raise or fold is what makes one a good poker player.

People often crib about cards like 9-2, 8-3, Q-4 in hand. They are vague combinations, to say the least, unless the Flop reveals a double. How to deal with cards like that – just fold them or pray for the River to Turn your luck or simply bluff your way by going all-in? 

Before I begin waxing eloquent on the subtle art of bluffing, a word of caution - bluffers, bullies and agros BEWARE. The Kois (I mean newbies) are fast acquiring skills to penetrate the fine art of deception.

I have often wondered, cribbed, sulked and gotten frustrated with all the posturing, bullying and bluffing that goes on endlessly in poker games. Grrr. Why, oh why all these dramatics? Why can’t people be straight forward and play hands trusting Ms.Luck faithfully?

Wait a minute!

That thought process triggered something so intrinsic and minimalistic that I simply couldn’t believe the answer – it would be boring! How could I even ignore the fact that bluffing, duping, hoodwinking, misleading and whatever else you call the art of deception, is the innate human trait upon which civilisations were built. Stupid me 

Once that piece of jigsaw fit into the larger picture, I began analysing the intriguing art of bluffing and bluffers. Over the past few weeks I set myself out to categorise the different types of bluff. Here is a small list (the search continues)

1.   Royal Bluff: Usually happens when the shark has a Broadway hand (AKQJ). Most sharks go for a handsome pre-flop raise. Now, if the Flop turns up sad cards like say 925 the sharks usually go for bloating the pot. Whether to call or not rests solely upon your hand.

2.   Straight Bluff: This is a tricky one. No matter what hand they have, some sharks just raise and raise and raise, even if the hand is 72 in different colours. Fold works best possibly, but risk can double or triple your stack! Not recommended for the faint hearted.

3.   Flush bluff: This is a straight forward bluff when there is a flush draw. Unless you have a pair in the draw or a strong flush card, this is dangerous to continue. Learnt this the hard way, having lost to bigger cards. 

4.   Double Whammy Bluff: The most misleading of all the bluffs. The shark has met your call up to the Turn, giving no indication of a winning hand. Suddenly on the River, no matter what card, the shark raises ridiculously. He will be holding a full house or a flush and he has given you no clue. You confidently raise on your two pairs and plop you go.

5.   Lag bluff: When no one is keen on calling, just checking their way to see the next card, this joker suddenly disgorges a crazy amount or goes allin! 

6.   One-upmanship bluff: This is probably the most common among bluffs. Ahem, the younger lot is prone to this, especially in a short duration tournament. At least, it works for one of the racing lot  

7.   All-in Bluff: This is most common in low buy-in 15 minute tourneys, done either to up the stack or go in for rebuy. Go for it if you are in the ‘take a chance’ mood.

8.   Serial bluff: This is a habitual compulsive disorder. Defies all logic and usually the pretenders are out and someone’s stack gets fattened. They are easy to spot 

The search continues, and all said and done, though I have bluffing jitters, I have come to accept bluffing as a natural part of poker. Whether I have learnt to bluff or not, call and see 



Radhika Mahalingaiah

Radhika aka Betazoid is a retired journalist and an avid scrabble and poker player. She is a guest writer with 9stacks