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Ultimate Guide to Bluffing

A bluff is an attempt to win a hand when your cards are weak. Even though it’s risky, it’s an essential part of a successful players strategy as it keeps your opponents guessing about the cards you have in your hand.

Why Bluff?

If you only play when you have good cards, good poker players will soon find out. When your opponents recognize your approach they will be much less inclined to call your bets knowing you are likely to have a strong hand. As soon as that happens you won’t be able to win big and you’ll continue to lose blinds. An occasional bluff places doubt in your opponents mind. After a bluff you can bet big with good hands and if your opponent thinks you are bluffing again you can capitalize and win big.

When to Bluff

This leads us to the all important question, when should you bluff? There are a few golden rules to follow which will maximize your chances of pulling a bluff off. Firstly, consider the stakes, it’s more difficult to bluff in micro stakes games as people are more inclined to call regularly knowing it won’t cost them too much. With that in mind, be more cautious with your bluffs in low stakes games. You also need to consider how many opponents remain in the hand, the more people left in the hand the lower your chances are for pulling off the bluff as there is a greater chance that at least someone has you beat and will call.

Before bluffing, it’s also a good idea to get a feel for the table and try and read the strategies of your opponents. For example, if there is a player who is calling almost everything you might want to make sure they are out of the hand before you bluff. Equally if there is an opponent who regularly folds it might be easier to pull off the bluff against them.

Strategies

Bluffing is all about balance. You need to ensure your opponents don’t figure you out by bluffing occasionally and at the right moments. For your bluffing strategy consider your position, it’s better to see how your opponent reacts to the board before you make a bet, that way you can see how strong they are. As a general strategy, bluff when you have the benefit of a good position on the table.

You should also consider bet size as part of your bluffing strategy. Ideally you want to bet the minimum amount to make your opponent fold, if the round is in its early stages and your opponent has checked generally a bet of 50% of the pot will get your opponent to fold. However, remember to consider what type of player they are, if they’ve been playing particularly tight then 25% of the pot might well be enough. Make sure your strategy is always informed by your opponents actions and try not to risk any more than you need to.

Bluffing is a crucial aspect of poker, but it’s also difficult to find the right balance. Make sure you take all the factors into consideration such as stakes, position and the actions of your opponents.