Bluffing in Multi Table Tournaments is not just about shoving in your chips with nothing to see if an opponent will fold, but an art of creating uncertainty in your opponents. Does your small bet on the river mean that you are scared, or is it a lure to make an opponent bet when he is well beaten? Or are you bluffing with nothing, but making it look as if you want villain to call, but the last thing you want is to have to show your 5 high?
Some kinds of bluffs:
- Preflop bluff. You just raise to steal the blinds. This is useful in the final stages of tournaments when the blinds are so high that even for BB to call a miniraise and lose the pot will be very costly to him. Also when you come up against your final opponent on the final table, and a mixture of limps and raises will help to disguise your monsters, plus you can win some pots with utterly worthless hands that you would never normally play.
But even in the earlier stages of MTTs, this preflop bluff raise can be useful, especially in button and blinds play, because having repped a big hand, any A or K that comes on the flop looks to your opponents that it falls within your range, whereas if you limp in from the SB, it is much harder to convince opponent that you have an A when one appears, and he may summon up to the courage to call your bet with a hand that is ahead of yours. And if an A or K does not come, then haven’t your represented an overpair?
Flop bluffs. Usually these are semi-bluffs, where you do not have a made hand, but you do have a strong draw, so many outs if called. Best done from late position. However, with second or third pair on the flop, you may also represent top pair with a large bet hoping no one will call. This works best if you also have some sort of backdoor draws to a flush or straight, as that gives you many outs. With a pair AND a flush draw on the flop, you may be drawing to a flush, 2 pairs, or trips, so it is not all over until the fat mermaid sings at the river.
Turn bluffs. A scare card falls that may complete a flush, straight, or trips if it pairs a card on the flop. A bluff from early position will sort out the men from the boys.
River bluffs. You have missed your draw, but the pot is too large to ignore. Maybe you can get top pair to fold. (This does not often happen on RP as most players will call with top pair, bottom kicker, but second pair will occasionally fold.)
The latest addition to my armory has been the faux flush bluff, which I had never used before. I had been studying strategies to deal with a very annoying, but crafty calling station who keeps hitting flushes on the river, and noticed that when flush cards fell, if he bet the river, it meant he had the flush, and if he checked,it meant he did not have the flush, so I figured out a way to bet him off the pot when it looked like there could be a flush, but he did not have it. Seems to be working well. I used to dread having him on my table, but now I welcome him and his followers and regard them as a source of chip revenue.
This was a nice example, where with the board flushing on the river, I was able to knock down a nice pot with a river bet that made 4 opponents fold. My hand was T7o, and unlikely to win the pot without a bluff to help my opponents with their decision making.
You may well say that this looks like an incredibly passive table, and you would be right, but it is a 1-million chip buy-in tournament in which the players are mostly in the top 1000 on RP and if no one wants to raise and lets me check into many pots with trash, I have no particular objection.
And here is another one where a bluff on the river folded 4 players a few hands later where my hand was J6o. In this case nobody had bet the flop and when the 8 from the flop paired with the river, it looked like the pot would go to whoever had the best kicker. Since there was an ace on the flop, the pot might have been shared 5 ways.
My tournament strategy is constantly evolving and the latest thing in early play (the first hour on RP) is to just avoid confrontations with the sharks who don’t play nice and go spearfishing for limpers when there is a trail of blood in the water.
Would be interested to hear from others on successful bluffing formats and which kind of bluff is the most profitable. In RP MTTs I am inclined to think that the preflop bluff is the most profitable and the simplest as it sets the scene for the bluff on the flop with a large pot, but this may not be equally applicable to other poker formats.