the strategy to stop bluffs is to represent more strength
than you actually have. Your opponent will not try
to bluff, thinking you have at least a calling hand
and perhaps better.
Let's say you are playing draw poker, jacks or better
to open, against someone you want to stop from bluffing.
As the dealer in last position, you open with a pair
of aces. After having originally checked in a very
deep position, the potential bluffer now calls you.
There is no chance that player has something like
two pair, since in that case he would have opened
himself. Instead he must be on the come. Drawing first,
he takes one card, which either makes his hand or
doesn't. Now you stand pat! Even when you check after
the draw, your opponent will almost never bet unless
he actually made his hand. He certainly will not try
a bluff in the hope that you will throw away a pat
hand. He probably won't even bet a small straight.
If he does bet, he's made his hand, and you fold,
knowing you have not cost yourself any money - that
is, knowing your opponent did not steal the pot from
To stop a bluff in this spot, some players would draw
one card, representing two pair, and many players
would draw two, representing three-of-a-kind. But
in either case, their opponent may still bluff, and
he will probably be bluffing approximately correctly.
By standing pat, you are stopping the bluff almost
completely at almost no cost to yourself. Since you
have two aces, there is no chance your opponent can
catch a bigger pair than yours, and the odds are approximately
500-to-1 that you would make a full house by drawing
three cards at the same time that your opponent makes
a straight or flush.
By stopping a bluff in this fashion, you have reduced
your opponent's chances of winning money from you
to a minimum. Let's assume the opponent who draws
one card makes the hand 20 percent of the time. When
that opponent never bluffs - and by standing pat you
have pretty well forced him not to bluff - you win
the pot 80 percent of the time. Given the pot's size,
your opponent's proper bluffing frequency, according
to game theory, is about 7 percent. However, as long
as your opponent bluffs anywhere from 1 percent to
20 percent of the time, he does better than if he
doesn't bluff at all. If, for instance, he bluffs
only 2 percent of the time, you still shouldn't call
when he bets, and now he wins 22 percent of the pots
rather than 20 percent. If he bluffs 10 percent of
the time, he is still a 2-to-1 favorite to have his
hand made when he bets. Since the pot is giving you
better than 3-to-1 odds with the antes, you are forced
to call, but you will lose that last bet two times
out of three. So you clearly fare better when this
opponent never bluffs (or, of course, bluffs way too
much) than when he bluffs anywhere near correctly.
should you do?
A) Buy in, but plan not to rebuy or add on.
B) Buy in, and plan to make the add-on only.
C) Spend as much as you need to, and bankroll be damned.
D) Skip it.
COMMENT: There are a lot of extrinsic factors to consider
here, including the size and quality of the field,
the fact of the guaranteed minimum prize pool, and
the really nice hat. But these extrinsic figures pale
to insignificance in relation to this one intrinsic
question: How do you feel going in? Your state of
mind will skew your decision-making process here,
and three times out of four it'll lead you down a
Suppose you decide to enter the tournament, but not
to rebuy or add on. You're good for one shot, you
figure, and if you bust out, well, so be it. This
plan yields significant edge to your more profligate
foes. Knowing that they can't go broke till the rebuy
period ends, they'll play the early rounds with a
confidence you won't have. Also, if they add on and
you don't, they'll enter the post-rebuy period better
equipped for combat. Overall, this scheme will only
work for you if you play well enough (or get lucky
enough) to never need a rebuy and also to emerge from
the first round of play with so many chips that adding
on wouldn't materially improve your position. This
can happen, but it's rare, and especially so when
your unwillingness to rebuy has tied a hand behind
your back during the first phase of play.