All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Betting On A Straight,
and Safer Online Bluffing

Poker straight? Or bluffing?
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Seeing the true potential for a straight from your hole cards is not always as obvious as you might think. Clearly if you land ace-king you’re immediately fizzing with the thought of the highest straight possible. Funnily enough a more humble ten-nine has a much better straight potential than the more regal ace-king. The reason should immediately impact on your brain. Ten-nine can be used to make ten-nine-eight-seven-six if the flop, the turn and the river choose to oblige. However, ten-nine also has the chance of producing nine-ten-jack-queen-king or eight-nine-ten-jack-queen or seven-eight-nine-ten-jack. Put simply, the hole cards ten-nine have four times the chance of producing a straight than ace-king. This is not something a new player would immediately deduce and is worth filing away in a poker pigeon hole.

Bluffing online is a much tougher task than bluffing in a face to face social game. Physical presence obviously offers far more clues as to an opponent’s demeanor. Bluffing online is a different art form and depends to a large extent on position. Why is position critical?
It gives you the opportunity to see how opponents ahead of you are reacting and to note if the situation is looking suitable for a bluff in late position to be attempted. Here’s an example to offer clarity.

A player ahead of you raises pre-flop. You are holding ten and jack of diamonds and call. Seven of hearts-eight of diamonds and three of spades are delivered by the flop. A flop like this is unlikely to have offered very much to your opponent, but he’s possibly holding a better pair of hole cards than you. This is a bluff opportunity unfolding. Go for a small raise so that you look like you’re angling for a call. Should your opponent fold, you may well have won the day with a lesser hand than he was holding. Should your opponent call, you’re in a position to go for a larger bluff on the turn. Only if he re-raises should you consider giving up on your strategy.

The above scenario is the kind of bluffing that goes on amongst experienced players all the time. The safest form of bluffing online for a beginner is to be disciplined enough to take notes on the betting habits of your opponents. Note how they typically play certain hands. A regular habit of studying  “hand histories” will assist with this as well. Certain types of player always emerge as the best candidates for a bluff. -- Bet the Straight!

ALL THE ACES poker column:
Monday November
 21, 2005: 
Betting on a straight, and safer online bluffing