Poker Bluffing Tips
Without the bluff, poker would not be poker; it is the ultimate deception. One of the greatest feelings you can get from poker derives from taking down a huge pot that your opponent should have won.
Bluffing in poker has been greatly glamorized by the media, televising huge bluffs being put on other players and taking down huge pots in the WSOP and in movies. So let's find out how to bluff with these handy poker bluffing tips...
How often should you bluff?
If you ask an amateur player or any person new to poker what the fundamental aspects of Texas Hold'em are, you can be very sure that they will describe how bluffing your opponents is key to beating the game. However, this is actually far from the truth. It is possible to beat poker games without ever needing to bluff (although not recommended!).
Many amateur players bluff far more often than necessary, which leads them to lose money over the long run.
The aim of poker is to win money, simple as that. So if you were to never bluff, you could still make money. Think of it this way; If you are sitting at a 6 seater table, each player has an equal chance on getting good or bad cards. Each player according to simple math should have the best hand 1 in every 6 hands, therefore if all the players were of the exact same standard, in the long run nobody would lose, and nobody would win.
However, if one player was able to win more money from their opponents when they had the best hand than their opponents won from them when they had the best hand, that player would be making more money than their opponents in the long run. It stands to reason that if you play your cards better than the other players play their cards, you will end up a winner.
You should not enter a hand with the intention of bluffing. You should only bluff if you are confident that you can win the pot based on the way your opponents have been playing up to that point in the hand.
For a more thorough answer to this question, check out the how often should you bluff? article.
Does this mean that players lose money trying to run bluffs on one another?
Not necessarily. An experienced player can pick their spots and take down a few pots that should have been taken down by someone else, adding a little more to their stack. But it is not easy for a beginner or even intermediate players to pick the right spots, it takes a lot of experience of situations and knowledge of your opponent to know when a bluff will be successful.
If you are unsure of whether you can take down a pot with a bluff, then you shouldn't attempt a bluff.
The extra advantages of bluffing in poker.
As you play more poker, you will have a greater understanding of when you can bluff. However there are more advantages to bluffing than simply winning one pot.
Giving yourself a loose image.
If you continually try to run bluffs against your opponents, they will try and catch you out when you bet into them because of your table image. They will start to overplay their mediocre hands when you bet and pay you off when you do have a good hand.
Putting your opponents on tilt.
Players do not like to be deceived out of their money. If you make a successful bluff against a player and show them, they may become frustrated and play worse in an attempt to get their money back. This is known as "playing on tilt". However it is not advised to do this often as your opponent and others at the table may be out to get you, which will make the game trickier to play.
As you can see, poker bluffing has its extra benefits. The most important one mentioned above is giving yourself a loose table image, as you potentially can take a lot of money off your opponents because they will not believe you when you do have a good hand.
Poker bluffing tips.
When you should you bluff?
The answer is simple, but it's probably not quite the answer that you were hoping for...
You should bluff when you think your opponent will fold.
Knowing when your opponent will fold can only come through practice, and the more you practice the better you will become. Reading poker books will also help you to understand the game, and where bluffs can be employed successfully.
There are no hard and fast rules for bluffing, as every hand in Texas Hold'em is different from the next. The best you can do is learn how to identify situations in which a bluff is likely to be successful based on the information you have obtained by the way your opponents are playing.
Good bluffing situations in poker.
When in last position. If you are in last position, you have the ability the make more successful bluffs than anywhere else on the table. If you are last to act, and your opponents have checked to you, it is a sign of weakness. This is a perfect opportunity to bet and win the pot.
If you raised pre-flop. If you raise pre-flop and then missed on the flop, you can still win the pot. If you make a continuation bet, your opponent is unlikely to call unless they have hit top pair or middle pair at least.
Against small stacks. If your opponent has a small stack, they are unlikely to call a raise unless they have hit the flop hard. But you have to be careful, as it will be rare for a short stack to simply call when bet into, they will either fold or push. Again this is where practice makes perfect, and you will know when your opponent is more likely to fold than push based on their stack size.
When on a draw. If you do not have a made hand, but are on a draw such as a straight or a flush, you can launch what is called a semi-bluff. You hope to take the pot down right there, but if you do get called you still have a chance to win the hand if the next cards improve your hand. But if you get re-raised be prepared to let the hand go, unless you are receiving correct pot odds to call.
Poker bluffing evaluation.
It is important to remember that you do not need to bluff to win money at poker, especially if you are new to the game. It is far better to play your good hands well rather than try and make your opponents fold when you have no idea whether or not they will call.
As you play more Poker you can expand your game and try new things in different situations and find out times when it is best to bluff. It could be said that bluffs are more beneficial for what they do for the future, rather than what they do for the present. In the present you will be taking down a small pot, but in the future you could be taking down a large pot because your opponent did not believe that you had the best hand when you bet.