A building block of getting better at poker is deception. Bluffing is one of the most standard tricks in poker at sites like Americas CardRoom but is also one of the most powerful. Of course, the reasoning for a bluff is to trick the other players into thinking you have a better hand when you actually do not (or not yet).
Successful bluffs work when everyone is convinced that you actually have that good hand you are representing. Too many starting players love the idea of the bluff and end up bluffing at the wrong times and situations and lose money to it. I am going to go into the different situations of when you might want to bluff. Also keep this in mind on the flipside when other players are trying to bluff you.
Before we get when to bluff in poker, please understand you should know how your opponents play before bluffing a lot. Anticipating their reaction is KEY to winning with bluffs.
WARNING: Bluffing too much or on every opportunity that comes up, will label you as a chronic bluffer. This label will make people call your bluffs more and more often and you will lose that edge, so bluff sparingly. Also this can be great for you if you are changing your table image (stop bluffing and raising strong only with good hands, thus getting more calls because they think your bluffing).
Poker Bluff Techniques
1. Few Players Remaining When there are a few amount of people in the poker pot it would make sense it is easier to fool the few amount of people than if everyone was in the pot. With not so many people in the pot, the likely hood that someone made a hand is smaller than usual (which gives you a window of opportunity). Know what types of players are left in the hand, it is not smart to try to bluff a maniac because they will usually call anything.
2. The Dealer Pre-flop If you are the dealer it is easy to steal the blinds when most of the table has already folded. This is usually best used with tight players to your left (because they will fold unless they have a good hand). This technique can show some promise once the flop comes, because your mediocre hand may hit the flop and become the best hand.
3. Representing Your Previous Bet Let’s say you bet preflop with a decent hand like AK but completely miss the flop. Sometimes it is good to bluff at this point because you could still make a better hand with cards to come. Most importantly everyone knows you bet preflop and don’t know that you missed it. Representing your bet will put pressure on the other players because they will think you have something better than you actually have.
4. Flop Is Horrible Here comes the flop; 2 of hearts, 5 of spades, and 8 of diamonds… everyone is thinking the same thing most likely, what a horrible flop! In this situation most players won’t have much, and some will fold instantly to a bet because they have crap. A solid bluff here could just take the whole pot, but be warned! Someone’s shitty hand may be better than your shitty hand and if they call you, you’re in trouble.
5. Late Position and Sensing Weakness This is another common bluff and usually doesn’t win a pot but does narrow it down to a few people. If you are on the button or in a late position and everyone is checking to you, then it might be a good opportunity to take a stab at the pot since your sensing weakness all around you. Be warned though, many people slow play just because they hope someone will bluff just like this.
6. The River Many people chase hands down hoping to catch their card, but what happens when the river comes and they didn’t hit? Most people fall back to the logic of ‘the second you know you can't win, get out of there’ (this works great of there was an obvious flush draw that didn’t hit). Make sure your hand is at least halfway decent though, like Ace high or maybe a low or mid pair, otherwise you could be throwing away money to a shitty hand that is just a little bit better than yours.
7. Playing verse Tight Players This type of bluff is really searching for information from the tight players at your table. Generally they will fold unless they got a really good hand. So if you bluff and they call or raise, you should know its time to get out of that hand. Remember to KNOW YOUR OPPONENTS! If you cannot anticipate what they are going to do, what’s the point of a bluff??
8. Pair on Board The main reason why bluffing when there is a pair on the board is because there is a lower chance that someone hit a hand. Two cards that are the same on the board mean, they are not ordered (less of a straight possibility), not the same suit (less of a flush possibility), and that there are only 2 other cards out there that could match with them to make a set. Most likely those 2 cards are either buried (especially if it is a low pair, people often fold lower cards preflop) or have not come yet. This is almost like only 2 cards come on the flop which means statistically only a few amount of people would have hit their hand, or have a drawing hand. This is a great opportunity to bluff.
When you are ready to try out your Bluffs, join an online poker game.
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