Poker Bluffing Strategy
Every poker player loves to bluff. There really is nothing quite as thrilling as pushing your opponent off a hand that they should have won with a well-timed bluff.
Unfortunately, the bluff is a move that is all to often overused and abused by beginner players, which in turn costs them a lot of money. Use this bluffing strategy to help you master the art of bluffing in Texas Hold'em.
Why should you bluff in poker?
It's probably not like you need another reason to try and pull off a bluff as a newer player to the game, but I'm going to give you one anyway.
Bluffing allows you to take down pots that you would not normally have won, whilst adding some sort of 'unpredictability' factor into your play. Therefore if your opponents find it difficult to tell whether you are weak or strong in a hand, it is going to help you win money in the long run.
The less your opponents know about your game in Texas Hold'em, the better.
Check out my rankings of the top Texas Hold'em poker rooms for US players. You may be surprised.
How to pull off a successful bluff in poker.
If I could tell you how to successfully bluff every time in poker through this one short article, then I would be the most sought-after guy in the world of poker. Having the ability to spot prime opportunities to bluff comes from experience at the table, rather than from a set of specific rules that you might read somewhere. However, this does not mean that I can't give you the groundwork for a good bluffing game...
To pull of a successful bluff, your play needs to fill two criteria:
- Your last action in the hand should have been strong.
- Your opponent's last action in the hand should have been weak.
In a way, this basically says that the story of the hand needs to line up correctly, otherwise your bluff will fall apart. If your opponent has been playing weakly and you have been playing strongly, it makes perfect sense to suggest that a further strong play (i.e. a bluff) is likely to win the pot.
Conversely, it is almost suicidal to attempt to bluff an opponent off their hand when they have been playing strongly and you have been playing weakly, because it simply does not line up with the way the rest of the hand has been played. The more believable your bluff is, the greater the chance it has of working.
Having position over your opponent increases the likelihood of your bluff being successful, as you will be able to see whether or not they are weak (by checking) before you decide whether or not to bluff.
How often should you bluff?
Let me start off by saying that you do not need to bluff nearly as much as you might think. Bluffing is a great weapon, but only if it is used at the right time and in the right situations. If you use it too often, your bluffs are going to lose a lot of credibility and you will end up getting caught out and losing chips.
As with a number of other plays in poker, you want the bluffing opportunity to come looking for you, rather than going all out to look for the times you can bluff. The chances are that if you are forcing out a bluff, it's going to be an unprofitable play. Just because you are playing poker, it does not mean that you are obliged to bluff at some point during the session, so keep focused.
When should you bluff?
You should bluff when you are confident that your opponent will fold. A bit of a vague answer I know, but it really is the simple and most effective answer to the question. However, I will give you a few more bluffing tips to help you along.
It is better to bluff at smaller pots than it is at larger ones.
Bluffing at smaller pots is a lot less risky, and therefore is not so detrimental when things do not work out how you planned. This is an especially good tip if you are a new player, as it allows you to get to grips with bluffing without putting too much of your money at risk.
Bluffing on the flop can be very effective.
About two thirds of the the time your opponent is going to completely miss the flop. On top of this, even if they do hit the flop a little, the chances are that they are going to fold if they come up against too much resistance. It is a lot easier to fold and save money rather than risking a lot with a mediocre hand. So if you were the raiser before the flop, a continuation bet can prove to be a very effective play
Playing poker and not using a training site is like planting crops and not using fertilizer. Maximize your results with poker training.
Avoid bluffing the river.
This is not to say that bluffing on the river is always wrong, but a lot of the time a river bluff is a poorly executed play. Players will usually bluff on the river in a last desperate attempt to win the hand, regardless of how they have played up to that point.
This makes the river bluff look completely out of place, and is very easy to spot if you are an experienced player. So as a general rule of thumb, avoid bluffing on the river unless you are completely sure about what you are doing.
Randomly bluffing on the river is one of the biggest leaks in an amateur player's game.
Poker bluffing strategy overview.
As much as you might love to bluff, you have to learn to put a leash on your bluffing tendencies to keep them under control. It's not easy to snap out of the bluffing lifestyle, but if you want to become a winning poker player, it is something that you are going to have to suck up and get on with.
The next time you have the burning urge to bluff, close your eyes and click fold, then see what happens. It won't hurt as much as you think, and you will have probably saved yourself a nice bit of money. Bluffing can work incredibly well in the right situations, but there really is no need to focus your game around this play. Bluffing is a tool, not a game plan.
Go back to the sublime Texas Hold'em guide.