Bluffing actually occurs naturally in poker, the most obvious reason being that you want your opponent to be convinced that his hand can’t beat yours, so that he will fold, leaving you with the pot. But bluffing is so much more than just an easy means to a win; in fact, it’s not even necessarily appropriate to use at all poker tables.
Bluffing actually works better in higher limit games than lower limit games, and bluffs work better on smaller pots and are more effective against tight players. The truth is that the value of a bluff is only as good as your knowledge of your opponents and the state of the table that you’re playing at.
How to Bluff in Poker
The first rule of thumb to remember when deciding to bluff your hand is to count the number of players in the hand. Bluffs work better when you have fewer opponents to force out of the pot. Bluffing one to two players is more worthwhile than bluffing three+ players.
Next, look at your cards as casually as possible, showing no emotion when you do so. Be careful not to show disappointment when you’re dealt a bad hand (in live poker), and then bet or raise someone else’s bet during the first betting round, prior to the flop. Don’t bet too much though, and do not raise an already big bet. If you think an opponent might actually have a decent hand, fold and wait for the next hand. If possible, check after either the flop or the turn. Make a reasonable bet in the next round. Consistent bets will help you further mislead your opponents. If you last long enough, you’ll take the pot with a successful bluff. And it should go without saying to never reveal your hand, especially after a successful bluff.
Another tip to remember when bluffing in poker is that the bet following the river card is the most imperative. This bet must be strong and intimidating. If the other players check to you, make a significantly substantial wager. If the previous player bets before you, the size of his bet should determine how you act. If his bet is minimal, a larger bet on your part may scare them off. However, if his bet is larger and could perhaps be a bluff bet too, your best option is to call him and go all-in. Recognizing another player’s bluff and then trumping it with a bluff of your own to take a massive pot is the most optimal bluff tactic.
You should also remember that the turn card is important in effective bluffing. By betting moderately early on and then betting big on the turn, your position will be more intimidating. Also, if you believe you’ve got the hand won, you might even check and then bet extreme on the river. You are more likely to be called on a big bet if you have been checking early on, as your opponents will suspect a bluff, especially if you’ve already been caught bluffing.
Just like any good thing, too much is too much, and many inexperienced poker players overuse the bluff and it ends up becoming an ineffective tool. But because bluffing is such a prominent part of a good poker strategy, it’s essential to use it properly and in moderation. Furthermore, the significance of bluffing in poker is twofold, and to accurately understand the art of bluffing means that you will perfect your own skills while developing the able to notice your opponents’ bluffs as well.
A pure bluff is a bet or raise made on a hand that has absolutely no chance of winning. The purpose of this tactic is to win the pot despite your weak hand, and it can be a very lucrative resource, but using it too much will devalue it.
An opportune time to introduce a pure bluff is when you are in late position at a poker table and all your opponents have checked, because in a situation like this, a bluff will compel some of your opponents to fold. More experienced players may recognize your attempt and/or stay in due to bet odds.
You may also be able to use a pure bluff to steal a blind, but again, this should be practiced in moderation. One tricky way some players use the bluff is by building a bluff-happy reputation in hopes that when they really do have a good hand their opponents will call, assuming their bluffing again. But this tactic can get expensive. The underlying concept of a successful bluff is that it is believable.
A semi-bluff can be useful when your hand is weak but has potential for improvement. The purpose of this bluff is to tempt other players into folding, relinquishing the pot straight to the bluffer. If their opponents don’t fold though and call him instead, he still has a chance at winning. The ideal environment for a semi-bluff would be within a flush or straight draw, which could win result in a winning pot. Semi-bluffing can be used more often than