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5 Types Of No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs

Bluffing in Poker


Bluffing is a critical component of a balanced Texas Holdem Poker strategy. However many players make errors with both the frequency and size of their bluffs. After all, if you never bluff your opponents will know that your bets mean that you have a good hand, bluff too much and you will very quickly be ‘trapped’ by an observant opponent. This article summarizes 5 different types of no-limit Holdem poker bluff and suggests the most profitable time to use each.

Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs #1 – The ‘Pure Bluff’

You reach the river with no pair and no draw and can only hope to win the pot by betting and seeing your opponent fold. This situation is an example of a pure bluff – you have little or no chance of winning the pot when called. Use of the pure bluff is largely opponent dependant, a particularly timid opponent may fold a weak hand or busted draw, or a particularly strong opponent who is familiar with your game may give you credit for a hand. However, the pure bluff should be used sparingly, particularly if your river bet does not make sense in the context of betting on previous streets.

Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs #2 – The Semi-Bluff

The semi-bluff is a profitable move and a common form of bluffing among experienced players. This can be thought of as a bluff with some form of backup if you are called. This backup is in the form of some chance to hit a turn or river card that makes you the best hand – for example a flush or straight. The combination of chances that your opponents fold, or that you will make the best hand when called, make this a profitable form of bluff.

Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs #3 – The Continuation Bet

When you raised before the flop and were called, it is often profitable to ‘continue’ with the aggression you showed once the flop comes, whether you hit your required cards or not. Since your opponents will only hit the flop once every 3 times (assuming no pair before the flop), your bet can show a profit from those times your opponents miss and decide to fold. Continuation bets work best with just 1 or maximum 2 opponents and should be less frequent on flops which make several flush and straight draws possible.

Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs #4 – The Check-Raise Bluff

This type of bluff is a powerful move, and one which could be expensive when it does not work. The idea is that instead of leading out with a bet as a bluff, you check. This induces your opponent to bet – at which point you come in for a large enough raise to make them fold. While this move will win the extra bet a large percentage of the time when your opponent folds, it is important that you judge the situation correctly – since a further raise by an opponent with a strong hand would make this an expensive way to fold your hand. Check-raise semi-bluffing may well be preferable to give you extra chances to win if you are called.

Texas Holdem Poker Bluffs #5 – The Post-Oak Bluff

Finally we get to a more subtle and less expensive form of bluffing. The post-oak bluff takes advantage of the fact that players with strong hands will often make small ‘value bets’ on the river which they expect to be called. My making a small (in relation to the pot) river bet you are mimicking this move and may get an astute opponent to fold a good hand – refusing to ‘pay off’ your obvious monster. Use only with observant opponents as beginners will often just call to see what you have. The post oak bluff has the advantage of being a cheap way to win a pot those times it does work.

Online players who want to profitably snap-off their opponents should check out some of the many independent Texas Holdem Poker Software tool available today. The best of these will watch opponents and flag with likely bluffs – allowing you to win pots in which you may previously have folded.