Sure you now know when the best situations to bluff at, what about those times where you are unsure? It's always good to look at poker from a mathematical perspective, and that even applies to bluffing. This way if the statistics are with you, you should always be on top. You can determine with statistics if it is financially smart to bluff or make calls. This will give you an edge over someone else, and poker is all about who has the most edges over the other players. Remember you are playing against other people not the house, so its all up to you to walk away with the money.
It’s good to make the math on potential straights and flushes that you missed but appear that you could have hit it. For example let’s say you have two hearts as your hole cards, flop comes heart, heart, club (you have a flush draw, and probably will bet/raise). Now the turn comes club, and the river is a club. What are you going to do? You just missed your flush… BUT you can act like the club flush was what you were going for! Another example is the flop is 3,5,6 (you have a 4 as one of your hole cards, sweet an open ended straight draw!) but the turn and flop is 8, 9. Crap, you missed your draw again! But wait…you can act like you have that 7! Why? Likely if a person is in this hand to the river, they had a 4 like you (thus you can scare them out of the hand).
So let’s apply the math to the above hand situations. Let's it’s in a $10/$20 poker game and on the river there is $300 in the pot. Your only opponent checks to you. If you check, you know you've lost. So you bluff. The reasoning is that if you invest another $30, you're getting 10 to 1 odds. As a percent that's around 10%. If they fold more than 10% of the time, you make money in the long poker game of life. If not, it's a losing endeavor.
Of course as usual you should know your opponent! Knowing you opponent will help you deal with the situation instead of a pure mathematical look at it, and will help make these bluffs worth it. You can also evaluate it by reasoning that they missed their draw more than 10% of the time and will fold.
Another reason why you want it just between you and someone else is if two players were involved in the pot, it cuts the odds in half. With three, it becomes 1/3rd of 10%, etc. You can see why you want to bluff against fewer players, it is mathematically unsound. Also, keep in mind other people will stay in the pot purely because of pot odds. When applying odds and math with a bluff make sure to know your opponent’s playing style. You should use this when you are unsure of what move to make, not as a guideline of how to play.
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