21/05/2015

The Beauty of the Bluff

Michael '007' Lang

The bluff is a vital weapon in any poker player’s arsenal. Use it correctly and you may win the battle. Use it incorrectly and you may have just lost the war. As long as you are not the one being duped by the bluff, there is nothing more beautiful in a game of poker than seeing someone bluff their way to a nice pot. Whenever it comes off, it is impossible not to tip your hat.

Of course, being able to produce the perfect bluff takes years of training and a hell of a lot of natural instinct. Starting out at online poker rooms like 32Red or Full Tilt is a good way to give you a grounding in the game. This helps you develop a feeling for bluffing.

Once you have become well-versed in the online poker rooms, we opt for 32Red.com for its generous welcome bonuses and streamlined play whilst Full Tilt is great if you are a poker purist, it is time to take your bluff to the felt. There are numerous other places to play such as PokerStars and Betfair, so just find the room that suits you. Playing face-to-face with your opposition adds a whole new layer to bluffing. This requires you to adapt your game much more than you would sat behind a computer screen.

Below are some of the best televised bluffs to have ever gone down to help give you some inspiration.

Phil Ivey - World Series Of Poker Main Event - 2008

Phil Ivey is regarded by many as the greatest poker player to have ever graced the tables. His website is hugely beneficial for those looking to learn the game. As bluffers go, Ivey is one of the best. Ivey had 9c-8d whilst his opponents had Kd-Kc and Ac-Kh with 6c-10h-Js-Ks- Ac on the table. But some aggressive chip throwing from Ivey completely irked them, forcing them both into folding. Not bad when you have a seven per cent hand!

Brad Booth - High Stakes Poker - 2008

This time it was Ivey who was on the receiving end of a bluff, and what a bluff it was by Brad Booth. David Williams got things off and running, betting $1,800 with Js-9c. For some reason Booth decided to three-bet to $5,800 with a stupendously low 4s-2s. Ivey had himself two red kings and upped the betting to $14,000. Let us quickly take stock. Any normal human would fold in that situation, but Booth pressed ahead with his poor hand. The flop (3d-7s- 6d) got Ivey excited enough to part with $23,000, leading to all those watching to expect the hand to be finishing. Booth went all in for $300,000. Ivey decided he wanted to play no part of this hand, sacrificing his pocket kings and the hand. Now that is how you bluff!

Isaac Haxton - WPT Caribbean Poker Adventure - 2007

The battle between Isaac Haxton and Ryan Daut was not one based on cards. It was based on mentality. Haxton came out on top in this psychological warfare. To be a top player, you don’t play your hand, you play your opponent. That is exactly what Haxton did. Holding 2d- 3d to Daut’s 7c-5s and a river consisting of Qh-4h-Ac-Kd-Qc, Haxton bet $700,000 to which Daut raised to $2 million. Haxton looked sick. He had terrible cards and his back to the wall. The only way out was to bet heavily but it came with a huge risk of wipeout. After taking the time to compose himself, he eventually ended up betting $6,125,000 all-in. This was a move that prompted Daut to fold. As if the victory wasn’t enough, Haxton brazenly showed his cards to rub some salt Daut’s expensive wounds.

Tom Dwan - High Stakes Poker - 2009

Tom Dwan is one of the best bluffers in the game. He borders on insanity with some of his plays but his bluff against Peter Eastgate and Barry Greenstein stands out. It is beautiful. An aggressive raise to $37,300 in the early stages of the hand saw Dwan thin the field from eight to three players. Dwan with Qc-10c and a flop of 2c-10d-2s-7d raised over $100,000 when he had just a five per cent chance of victory. The ballsy move paid off. It forced Eastgate with 4h-2d to fold whilst after some deliberation Greenstein also chucked away his pair aces.