Although you get better at poker by reading books, watching TV
matches and debating hands with friends, you should seek only to improve your
natural game - not play as if you were someone else.
Last week I told you about the solid young German player
Benjamin Kang and his full house. This is what happened next, when Kang decided
to exploit his tight reputation with some heavy bluffing.
Faced with a raise and a call on his
button, Kang re-raised with 10 4. Nothing wrong with that: a nice squeeze
play from a credible "rock". But suddenly, a Dutchman called Van der Peet (who
had so far put only the small blind into the pot) put in a huge third raise.
This signalled an enormous hand: certainly no weaker than AK, which is what it
actually was. The first two players folded. Kang should have given up at this
point, realising he'd mistimed the squeeze. Instead, he called.
flop came A 4 7, and the Dutchman bet out. Kang called, presumably planning a
"float"; a sophisticated play, involving a call on the flop to bluff the turn.
The turn was a J, and Van der Peet bet again. Kang thought for ages. He
actually asked the Dutchman, "Do you have aces?" Then he raised all-in.
Given his own hand, the long pause and the strange question, it was an
easy call for Van der Peet. Kang haemorrhaged most of his chips in this
disaster. Why? Because squeezes and floats must be combined with flawless
reading skills and a strong sense of situation. This crazy bluffing is not
Kang's natural style, so he had no instinct for how it should be done. He was
flying blind, and the plane crashed.