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The Myth of Bluffing

Successful bluffs, particularly in a high-stakes games, have great drama. Furthermore, people who do not play much poker often think that bluffing is the central element of the games. When Stu Ungar appeared on the Merv Griffin Show the day after he won the 1980 world poker championship, the first question Griffin asked him was, "Did you bluff very much?" Many occasional players who visit Las Vegas are constantly bluffing in the small $1-$3 and $1-$4 games, and they pay dearly for their foolishness.

It's true bluffing is an important aspect of poker, but it is only one part of the games, certainly no more important than playing your legitimate hands correctly. Though a player who never bluffs cannot expect to win as much money as someone who bluffs with the proper frequency, most average players tend to bluff too much, particularly in limit games. When it costs an opponent only one more bet to see your hand, it is difficult to get away with a bluff, for with any kind of hand your opponent is usually getting sufficient pot odds to call your bet - especially if he has seen you trying to bluff several times already.

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