Bluffing and bluff strategy is one of the hardest but most fundamental parts of poker. Without a doubt, if you do not bluff in poker, there is no way you can be a successful poker player. That being said, bluffing is no small task, as it requires good poker sense, timing and guts to pull it off. It can be frightening, scary and embarassing when you are caught, but equally exciting and rewarding when you get away with it. It is the art of making other players believe you have a better hand than you really have. If used correctly bluffing can help you enhance your profits from poker and win big. Here are ten tips to help you bluff successfully.
Bluffing in Texas Hold'em
In most Texas Hold'em games played around the casinos, structured (limit poker) is the most common type of poker played. Unlike no limit, where you can shove your stack all-in and put a man to his money, in limit games, your bluffs will only be limited to a single bet or raise more often than not. Because of this limited betting, bluffing randomly can get you in trouble, as your opponents will often be willing to call down a single extra bet (especially in low limit games). As cool as it might sound to tell yourself that you're going to bluff everyone out of the next hand no matter what, it's not going to work the majority of the time. Why? Because bluffing, is an art form.
Position - The Weapon of Choice for Bluffing
If you have studied texas hold'em or poker in general, you'll know that position relative to the button is a big factor in the game. If you don't know what position is, I highly recommend you read the link above or our texas hold'em guide as a primer. Position is a topic too important a topic to ignore, as it goes hand in hand with bluffing and aggression. Thus, adding a bluffing game on top of your position game is abolustely critical.
Continuing, position is important because bluffing will usually take place when you are close to the button or last to act. Why? Because you are in the advantageous situation to see all the action before the action is on you.
- Do not ever bluff weak opponents who call with anything (referred to as "calling stations"). This is the most general mistake. Be always sure that your opponent is a good enough player to fold a hand.
- A bluff is less probable to succeed if you have a loose table image rather than a tight one. If you were only just caught bluffing, your opponents will be more likely to call you in the future, though reverse psychology can occasionally prove beneficial in such situations. As an example, if a good player caught you bluffing and he regards you as a good player, he might think you would not dare bluff him again.
Generally, do not bluff a field of three or more players, especially not in Limit poker. A bluff is to be expected to succeed against one opponent, not only because it is just one player but also because the pot is usually smaller, which makes it less desirable.