Bluffing in Poker

The old pros of Texas hold’em poker believe that it’s just a game of skill and luck. However, most people would seem to believe that poker is just a game of pure chance to get the right cards and win the pot. While this is true in some ways, a pro who is unlucky will minimize all his losses and win the most when they strong hands as well as when they have nothing. One of the tactics which players put to use in both live and online poker games is called bluffing.

So what is a bluff? A dictionary explanation would tell you, “To deceive an opponent by a bold bet on an inferior hand with a result that the opponent withdraws a winning hand”. The beauty of a bluff is that you don’t have to show your hand to your opponents, allowing you to keep bluffing your hands, exploiting your tight image. Of course, if your image isn’t tight, then there is a greater chance your bluffs will get called, so you need to adjust.

Why bluff? Put simply, it makes you more money. But you need to have a sensible bluffing strategy. For one thing, it adds a lot of pressure to your opponents, and makes the game way more interesting to play.

However, bluffing is a risky business. Novices who don’t play poker that often can make easy mistakes that a pro can take advantage of. A common myth is that people who bet a lot of money must have a good hand. Wrong! Normally, new players will see the huge amount of money on the table and instantly fold, even if their hand is great.

This is what has made the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em so incredibly popular. It is possible for players to bet any amount of chips in front of them, to apply maximum pressure on their opponents when they want folds.

How does one bluff? You can go about it in many different ways. For instance, before the flop is even revealed, you could make a strong raise or re-raise with your hand. New players will instantly think you must have something great like a pair of aces or kings, and fold. A pro however, usually thinks it over carefully. Going all-in before the flop as a bluff is usually a donkey move, though, since a small bet will accomplish the same thing.

As alluded to above, your history of betting is usually what players at the table consider before calling your bluff. For instance, if you kept making huge bets and ended up losing them constantly, people will probably take a chance that you’re bluffing on this hand as well, and call it, even without much of a hand.

When should one bluff? This is extremely crucial, the timing of bluffs is what differentiates the men from the boys while playing poker. For instance, let’s say you had a hand of a 7 of spades, and K of spades. Before the flop, there was a raise from middle position and 3 other callers before it gets to you. You have good odds to make the call, but in this case, you could have considered bluff re-raising, especially if you think the other players will fold.

This type of bet would make your opponents assume you have a very strong hand, and unless they have one themselves, it’s very difficult for them to continue in the hand, which is why it’s such a profitable play.

How to tell if a player is bluffing? That is the million dollar question! It can be hard sometimes, especially when playing poker online, with their being no face-to-face interaction it can be hard to know. Even when playing live poker, the more experienced players can mask their tells and give false tells. Average players usually either have a recognizable pattern, or have telltale-signs.

Generally, you want to observe those players to see their playing type, and just fold for a few rounds to get a better idea of how you expect them to play. It can help you in later hands. For instance, if the player makes a huge bet, and always wins because of the great hand he has, he is most likely a straight-forward player who only makes huge bets when he has the nuts or close to it. This is good because whenever that player bets, you know his hand is better than yours (unless yours is REALLY good, in which case you should call him). Some novices will constantly make bluffs and try to be the table bully, and usually give away some kind of tell that reveals the weakness of their hands, like throwing chips into the pot or acting strong which often means they’re weak. Make note of these when playing against these people.

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight about bluffing in poker to help your game.