In poker, the bluff is one of the most powerful tools that a player has at their disposal. A good bluff can see you winning a game that you would never have had the chance to win, and it can really help you to build your confidence in the game, and weaken the confidence of your opponents.
When you bluff in poker, what you are trying to do is bully the other players into thinking that they don’t have a chance of winning that hand. Of course, you know that in reality you have no chance of winning, but by scaring the other players into folding their hands, you will win.
So, when should you bluff, and when shouldn’t you bluff? This is the hardest question of all. There’s times when a good bluff will win the game, and a huge wad of cash, and there’s times when a mistimed bluff will cost you everything. The secret to being a great poker player was made legendary in the song “The Gambler” with the words “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”. This is what you need to practice. Knowing when you should bluff and when you shouldn’t bluff is about psychology more then game play. you need to be able to read the other players, and imagine what they have in their hands from their subtle body language. Of course, this is harder to do online, but can also work in your favor when the other players can’t see your reactions either.
These are the areas that you should be looking for when you are planning on bluffing a hand:
1. The Type Of Game –
In home games, lower stakes games and online games, bluffing can be more difficult. In these sorts of games the players tend to be not as experienced as top-level players, and call a lot more often when they really shouldn’t, so the chances of bluffing a game are smaller, but they are still there, you just have to pick your moment.
2. Position –
When you’re in a later betting position you’re chances of bluffing the pot are a lot higher because you’ll have been able to see what actions the other players have taken and be able to act on that. If they are all sitting back and not betting then there’s a good chance that you can bluff the opponents with a well-timed aggressive bet.
3. Number of Other Players
The more players that there are in the hand, the more chance that someone else will call your bluff. It’s usually recommended that bluffing only take place when there’s two or three other players in the hand, that way the chances of one player calling your bets are minimized
4. Pot Size –
As the pot grows, your chances of bluffing other players out of it is less likely. The more that is at stake, the more the other players at the table will be willing to take the risk of putting more money into the pot.
5. The Style of the Other Players –
When you’re playing against others that are easy to read, don’t call often, and are generally tight players, your chances of bluffing are a lot more then if you’re playing loose, aggressive players.
6. Your Own Acting Ability
This is where you really need to be sure. Your ability to represent a winning hand is the key to a successful bluff. When you’re trying to bluff you have to think about:
Your previous hand history
Your position in play
The community cards
You need to be able to make the other players think that your cards, combined with the community cards, will give you an unbeatable hand.
7. Your Image at the Table
You have to keep your bluffing for when it is going to be effective. If you’ve been playing the whole game with bad hands but calling and betting anyway, you’ll never bluff well. if you’ve been playing tight, folding a lot, and generally been not playing to much, then a well-timed bluff will scare the other players into thinking that you have got a great hand.