How useful is bluffing in a Hold ‘Em tournament? Does it pay off enough times to make it worth it? Is it different for limit tables than no-limit tables? Let’s take a look.
Many feel in no-limit tournaments on Poker Stars.com, especially the big ones, it’s vital that bluffing take place at least once in a while. I go back and forth on this. Of course, if you’re good at it, bluffing is a wonderful skill to use to your advantage, assuming others don’t have success in reading you. But buying the pot, smart betting and luck of the draw are all just as useful, if not more so. And, what many people don’t realize, is that you can expose yourself as being predictable by being “unpredictable” just enough for other intelligent players to start picking up on it. If you bluff once in a while just for the sake of bluffing (and you get called on it, thus having to show your hand), you’re going to end up doing yourself more hard than good.
In a limit game, getting a bite on a bluff when more than four people are left at the table is difficult to accomplish. Many people will call with a small pair or high card, sometimes with nothing pre-flop, since the risk isn’t that great. I lost a huge hand once trying to bluff, lost to a pair of tens and couldn’t believe what the other guy was betting with. It was only $1/$2. Whether you’re playing online or in a casino, you’ll undoubtedly run into the player who will just keep calling and calling. You’ll be able to figure this one out very soon into the game.
Another factor is how well situated you are in the chips. If you’re high-stacked, it’s safer and easier to just buy pots (although that can be seen as a form of bluffing in and of itself anyway) than to try to bluff on occasion. If you’re bleeding chips, though, and are right around the corner from the Poker Stars Download blinds going up, you might want to make a more aggressive move than usual since your back is against the wall anyway.
Bottom line, bluffing is part of the game. And in a tournament, one of your goals should be to score a regular win to keep your chip count stable. With the blinds increasing regularly, sometime you’ll need to bluff to try to stay on your “schedule” of winning hands.