Never “BLUFF” again. Learn how to “Make Moves” instead.
When you watch the pros on TV push bets with no cards they are “making moves” not bluffing. Amateurs “bluff”. Professionals “make moves”. Winning online poker players should never bluff and always strive to make the right moves.
Here’s the difference between a bluff and a move. Moves are calculated actions designed to win the pot with a FOLD by your opponent. Bluffs are feeble attempts to scare someone with a big bet or raise. Moves are based on information, position and how the hand played out. Bluffs are based on hopes, dreams and incorrect beliefs.
So, with moves it doesn’t matter what cards you have. If you make a move and you get called or raised then you’re getting out of the hand as fast as possible. You tried to make a move on the pot and it didn’t work. What you’re doing is trying to get someone who has already declared that they aren’t particularly excited about their hand to make a decision for an amount of chips that will make them fold. If they make a decision that’s bad for you, like calling or raising; then you treat it just like a bad beat or just like a hand where it think the other guy just hit a flush against your set. You lay it down.
I still haven’t explained this completely. So, here’s level two on what separates a move from a bluff, and why moves are good while bluffs are bad.
AA, KK, AK, etc each have a certain preflop statistical advantage, right? AA doesn’t always win, but we play it strong because it will win more often than not, especially heads-up. We raise to reduce the number of players, build the pot, etc. because it’s the best starting hand. Right? BUT, it doesn’t ALWAYS WIN!! It’s not unbeatable, and there are times when you know you’re beat even with AA.
Aggressive moves are the EXACT same thing. CERTAIN aggressive moves in CERTAIN situations are statistically advantageous. The most basic “move” is the simple continuation bet. You raised the pot preflop (with AK, for instance) and get called by a player in late position. The flop misses you, but you bet half the pot or more anyway. Why? If the flop missed the other player, or some card that scared him flopped then he is highly likely to fold his hand right there. It’s not a bluff. It’s a move.
There are some other reasons why AK is good for a continuation bet as well (such as your ability to turn a winning hand). So let’s change it to pocket 77. You raise preflop and get a caller. The flop comes ace high. Again, you make a continuation bet. The situation is exactly the same. The “move” will win the pot for you right there, generally, unless your opponent has an ace. Is it a “bluff”? No, it’s a Move!
The more experienced you become the more “moves” you can add to your library. Some moves are very complicated – Check/calling the flop and turn in an effort to steal a pot on the river with a big raise is a more complicated (and risky) move. But there are players who know how to execute it for positive wins.
Proper aggression is NOT, I will say again, NOT a measure of personality. It is a measure of proper understanding of poker odds, not just CARD odds but also BETTING odds. Betting odds are the odds that you betting the right amount at the right time in the right situation will win you the pot regardless of your cards.
The important thing to remember for winning poker is that moves are based on information, not feelings. Information comes mainly from pattern recognition, and generally we don’t need to make any complex moves to be a winning poker player. Complex moves are reserved from late stage tournaments, not no limit ring games.
The one move you will use a lot as a winning player is the Continuation Bet. The other move you will use from time to time is raising for information.
In either case, you’re not bluffing. You are making professional level moves.