Poker Strategy – Bluffing

While there are a lot of tight poker players out there who do not even bother to bluff, it is a simple fact that bluffing is a part of all poker games, or any poker game for that matter. Not only is it fun, if used properly, it can be very profitable. Note that bluffing is not for the squeamish, faint of heart or scaredy-cats out there who can’t maintain composure at the tables!

The very first rule of bluffing is to remain calm and show absolutely no change in body language, attitude, blood pressure or any other sure-tell sign of manipulation. If your opponent even suspects that you are bluffing, he may call just to find out. If you are bluffing, you’ll never get away with it again.

The best way to pull off a bluff is to maintain a tight/aggressive poker strategy. Do not attempt a bluff too early in the game, assuring that everyone at the table knows you are playing tight. Keep your chips neatly stacked at all times (common tight-player poker tell) and Fold often to start. Once you’ve taken a few pots with this attitude, preferably in showdowns so that they can see you were not bluffing, then it’s time to throw in a bluff.

The best position to Bluff is the on the Dealer Button. You are able to see whether your opponents have the confidence to Raise, or simply Call the bet. If all players Call/Fold, throw a high bet out there. Most often, everyone will Fold. If not, you can Fold after the Flop and play it off like your hole cards – as great as they were! – simply didn’t connect; or keep up the bluff if there are only 1 or 2 opponents left in the hand.

Here’s a play-by-play of how a good Bluff might go down.

1. Bet, Raise or Re-Raise before the Flop.
2. Check or Call on the Flop (typical great-hand poker tell)
3. Bet/Raise on the Turn.
4. The River is very important. If Checked to you, make a significant Bet. If someone bets small before you, make a much larger Raise. If someone makes a decent sized bet before you, tighten your mental belt-strap and immediately go all-in!

Only the slightest hesitation can be allowed here, if any – a long hesitation shows weakness and will result in a Call. A split-second glance at the pot, then your chips, followed by a slight nod of the head as you push your stack across the table will relay confidence.

Poker Bluffing Tips
Watch how the Community Cards go down. If there is a possible Straight on the Flop (regardless of your hand), keep betting consistently as if you have the Straight. If the Flop reveals a possible Straight Draw, followed by a Straight on the Turn, Check/Call the Flop and Bet/Raise the Turn – Raise High or go All-In on the River.

In the same token, if the Flop offers up 3 suited cards, see how your opponents bet, then bet very high on the Flop (go all-in if you want) to bluff the Nut Flush.

Muck, Muck and Muck again! Never show your opponents what you are holding if you do not have to. Never show your cards when you’re not bluffing, then muck when you are. This tells your opponents that you are likely bluffing the mucked hands.

Do not bluff too often. If you are betting high on a consistent basis, suspicious players with enough of a chip stack to afford it will call your bluff, simply to find out. Once you’ve been caught, bluffing will lose its effectiveness.

Bluffing is best done on a small pot. If a pot has already grown in size, everyone is willing to take a risk to get their hands on it. Start bluffing when the pot is small, as a low investment encourages folding.

Don’t try to bluff a full table when no one has Folded. Chances are at least one player will have a good enough hand to risk calling. When there are only 1 or 2 opponents left, it is much easier to pull off a successful bluff.

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