Hone Your Other Poker Skills Over Poker Bluffs
Grinderschool Free Poker Strategy Articles
Jeff "CodeRedRulez" Lipsey has been an instructor and administrator on Grinderschool.com since 2008.
For whatever reason, players think that they have to make big bluffs to maintain a profit at the small and micro stakes tables even if it is against the advice of multiple solid instructors. Whether it is to "improve their red line," "build an image," or simply "because its fun," many players mistakenly believe that learning to bluff will be that one last quick fix that will propel them to professional status.
While almost all solid players agree that learning to bluff is an important skill, it should probably be one of the last skills you attempt to master before taking a shot "at the big money." Several other skills preempt bluffing on the must-know list including (in any order): tilt control, continuation betting, multi-tabling, hand reading, value betting, bet sizing, table selection, bankroll management, hand planning, inducing bluffs and I would say even card combinations and math.
I learned to play poker and built my bankroll in the poker boom years. When I played Limit Hold'em I never bluffed until I played $15/$30. When I made the switch to No Limit, I consistently never bluffed until I was playing 200nl full ring, several years after the switch. Games change, however, and you can no longer wait that long before learning to bluff correctly; by the time I "got around" to bluffing I had already spent hundreds of thousands of hands practicing all those other skills I mentioned above.
Bluffing is a part of poker and the best bluffers have made a ton of money. But the only reason why they are the best bluffers is because their opponents always think they have the best hand. Their image is tight, they don't care about their red line and they know that they have fun when they make money by the truckloads. Follow their lead and bluff rarely, if at all, at the micro and small stakes while you hone your skills.