actual poker situations, optimum strategy based on
game theory is not always the best strategy. Obviously
if you are up against an opponent who almost always
calls you, then you shouldn't bluff at all. By the
same token, if you are up against someone who folds
too much, you should bluff with some frequency.
Game theory bears out these shifts in strategy. Notice
in the first part of this page that if you bluffed
with five cards instead of six - that is, slightly
less than optimally - you would win $300 more per
42 hands if your opponent called rather than folded
every time. However, if you bluffed with seven cards
instead of six, you would win $300 more if your opponent
folded rather than called every time. Here is where
a player's judgment supersedes optimum game theory
strategy: He would bluff a little less against opponents
who call too much and a little more against opponents
who fold too much.
Good, intuitive players understand this concept. If
they notice they have folded on the end a few hands
in a row, they are ready to call next time. Otherwise
players will start bluffing them. And they use similar
considerations in deciding whether to bluff themselves.
It is against such expert players, whose calling and
folding are right on target, or whose judgment is
as good as or better than yours, that game theory
becomes the perfect tool. When you use it, there is
no way they can outplay you.
the flop, you should often think of your position
relative to the aggressor rather than relative to
the button. For example, if you're first to act but
you know the opponent on your immediate left will
bet if you check, then you effectively have last position.
You can be fairly sure of when a particular opponent
will bet surprisingly often.
Preflop raisers often automatically bet the flop.
Some players will automatically bet from late position
on the flop if its checked to them.
Many players telegraph their intent to bet by prematurely
reaching for their chips. When they are reaching for
their chips in a natural way, as opposed to putting
on a show of reaching for chips, they usually intend
to bet. I'll get into that a little more in chapter
9 (tells and hand reading).