September 26, 2011

More Win-rate Killing Mental Mistakes

We have previously covered pretty much all of the most common mental mistakes responsible for the killing of the win-rate of poker players in general and poker props in particular. We do have a responsibility to take things all the way though and not to curb the article-series before we thoroughly exhaust the subject, so here we go: the last common win-rate killing mental mistake is the bad bluff.
Bluffing is part of the game, and for many a successful pro, it is the very essence of the game. There’s just one major problem with bluffs though: they tend to go astray all the time, especially for beginners and less experienced players, and when they do, they tend to cost the player a lot of money. Bad bluffs are among the poker props’ worst enemies too, therefore one should develop the skills to spot the alignment of circumstances that lead to bad bluffs and to shoot it down before it’s too late.

Here’s how you can best spot a situation leading to a bad bluff on your part: think of every bluff as a short movie scene, in which you need to sell your character, in this case the hand that you’re trying to represent. If you fail to sell your role/correctly represent your hand, you fail altogether. The public won’t want to see your movie and your opponent won’t believe that you do indeed have that hand, faced with which he’d best be off folding.
The bottom line is this: when bluffing, think about whether you can credibly represent a hand or not. If your conclusion is that you can’t, quit.
The best bluffs always leave a way out for the bluffer even if he does get called. Experts call it the plan B approach. It’s really about leaving a possibility open. Suppose you bluff with a gutshot straight draw. However slim, there’s still a chance that you will make your straight if you’re called. Don’t leave yourself solely depending on your opponent’s decision to fold. You cannot eliminate the possibility of losing money on busted bluffs, but what you can do is to make sure that you do not make bad bluffs. All you have to do is to give yourself a plan B possibility and to think about the hand that you’re trying to represent.

A final word on mental mistakes: always be 100% focused when playing poker. Don’t watch TV or chat with someone online while playing. You may even want to turn the chat feature off in your online poker client window.

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