Poker is a game where bluffers will bluff, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they’re going to do. Image is a very important tool in poker. A lot of newbies assume that everyone on poker bluffs. Have you checked out the World Series of Poker? Generally speaking, people only make big raises or shoves when they actually have something to play with.
It’s very dangerous to just assume that people are bluffing. Isn’t there a way to look at player intentions before you get too committed?
Yes, there is. It’s actually called folding. People hate folding a hand that could potentially be good. But if you know that you have a weak hand from the beginning, why not fold and watch the show? Looking at what a player does when you’re not in the hand is very important to gain knowledge on what they’re doing.
If you find that one player is bluffing, do you avoid all hands that they’re in? Of course not. You want to make sure that you are practicing good poker policy even when other people are playing wildly. If you cultivate the image of a player that uses their head, you won’t get pulled into emotional situations. It’s unnerving to play with a bluffer, because they’re taking chips that you could have received yourself. When you’re playing for real money, this is even more frustrating.
It’s still in your best interest to be quiet, be patient, and wait for the right opening. Positioning in the game also makes a difference. If you’re the dealer, you’re the last one to act on the opening hand. This will let you know a good idea of what everyone has. If you have a weak hand when you’re the dealer, then you can fold gracefully and leave the pot alone. On the other hand if you’re the first one to act, a simple call vs. a raise can make a big difference. If you do indeed have a very strong pair, like KK or AA, then you should raise.
You have to think about odds with everything that you do. Yes, there will be times where you catch a really bad beat. It can really color your mood. When that happens, there’s nothing wrong with standing up and taking a deep breath. One of the key reactions the typical bluffer is hoping for is to unnerve you to the point where you start playing sloppy.
Don’t let them put you in that frame of mind. As long as you stay mentally strong, you can take over the game eventually.