Stay alive in large pots with semi-bluffs

Knowing when to bluff and which opponents to take as targets is essential if you hope to win the pot with the worst hand. Having the uncanny ability of reading the opponents definitely helps, but other factors such as your own table image and position also matter. Contrary to popular belief, very few pots are actually won by players who bluff brilliantly, and the frequency of bluffs online is fairly low. Those who use poker tracking software are better protected against aggressive opponents who resort to this tactic often, because the application warns them.

A much more effective way of the tricking opponents and winning pots that you have no business being in, is the semi bluff. regards it as one of the most important Texas hold ’em moves and for good reason. The difference between a semi-bluff and a genuine one, is that the first enables the player to hope for one or more cards to be dealt on the next streets, to improve his hand. The odds of this to happen are extremely low and that’s why the movies tagged as a bluff, but it actually is nothing more than a very risky play.

While you are not truly expecting to hit the turn or river, it is refreshing to know that on the off chance that your opponents are not intimidated, you still have a chance to win. The importance of making the semi bluff instead of a regular one, becomes self-evident when you are forced to go all in. If the opponent calls and you bluffed, the pot is lost right there but with a semi bluff you are staying alive although with minimal chances. On the long run, these small chances compound and you will cause a few bad beats that will boost your budget.

How to keep the pot manageable

Depending on how strong your hand is, you want the pot to increase its size as quickly as possible, or prevent it to grow and hope that you will catch a lucky break. The art of keeping the pots manageable is essential for those who play at medium-high stakes, and there are a couple of tricks that can be employed for achieving this result. Contrary to popular belief, not even those who hold monster hands should make huge bets early on, especially when there is a chance for their otherwise strong cards to be eventually beaten. A distinction has to be made between protecting your hand and coming over the top.

While slow playing is rarely a good idea, being overly aggressive is just as risky because you can easily become pot committed in terrible circumstances. Unless you hold the absolute nuts, it pays off to think twice before betting or raising in a manner that would leave you with no safety net. Especially against loose aggressive opponents who are drawing for a straight or flush, it is vital to keep the pots manageable without allowing them to see free cards.

Conversely, when you are hoping to improve your hand, you are facing a double challenge because you don’t want to invest more than necessary, and also try to conceal your intentions. Simply calling from behind will make your hand transparent, while the raising large amounts will get you in trouble if the opponent is not intimidated by your bluff. In most cases the right way to tackle the situation is by making a block bet from early position, or attempting reraises from late position if you have a tight aggressive table image.

Master squeeze play strategies

The squeeze play strategy is a weapon that every high-stakes players should have in his arsenal, because it is a move that can generate a lot of money if done properly. The idea behind the squeeze play is to make a significant reraise, after another player who raises pre-flop and an additional opponent calls. Naturally, there are several risks associated to this move and you need to pick your fights carefully and only against loose open raisers.

What players should bear in mind before resorting to a squeeze play strategy, is that every now and then they will run into opponents who hold premium hands. Despite the fact that the sheer size of their reraise is intimidating, it is most unlikely for an opponent holding pocket Kings or aces to fold his hand. If you have a tight aggressive image and you use this strategy with moderation, then the odds are stacked in your favor to end up on the right side of profit in the end.

Players who intend to employ the squeeze play, should have an excellent read on their opponents, and drastically limit the number of players they attempt it against. Equally important is to have the ability of backing off and conceding the loss, when you realize that the other player is unwilling to give up his hand. Short stackers and beginners are not advised to use this tactic, because the risk of getting pot committed with mediocre hands is all too real. Squeeze play is the exception to the rule, and only those who have spent a lot of time at the poker table and have a firm grasp on the game should attempt it.