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Bluffing in Poker

How to Bluff Effectively in Online Poker

Bluffing is one of the most misused online poker skills and one of the main reasons why a lot of losing poker players never improve. Before I get started, let me lead off by saying bluffing is often a bad idea when playing, unless it is used once in every 50-100 hands. Doing it frequently will have negative effects and will most likely lead to you losing a lot of money.

Bluffing has become so popular because many players get too attached to a hand and if they don’t hit their cards they think they will be able to bluff themselves out of a pot. This usually happens after the player takes a few bad beats and starts to play weaker starting hands. Unfortunately what usually happens is the other players will pick up on this and make calls they wouldn’t normally make.

When done right, bluffing can help you earn some monster pots, but if executed poorly it could cost you your buy-in. Before you make your next bluff keep the following things in mind:

Limits
Players are less likely to call a bluff if there is a lot of money involved. Trying to bluff on a $0.01/$0.02 table will probably be useless as players are less experienced and won’t care about the cost to call. Beginner or bad players are more likely to think that any pair is good and call with marginal hands to any bet.

Table Dynamic
Is the table tight, or loose? Loose tables are much harder to bluff on as players will call down any pair and sometimes even just high card if they think their opponent did not hit. Tight tables are easier to bluff as these players will assume that a bluff size bet means that the player most likely has the best hand.

Pre-flop Action
What did you do before the flop? If you are going to try and represent a hand (bluff) then you should pretend that you had this hand the whole way through. If your play looks suspicious your opponents will be more likely to call you.

Position
Bluffing is much more effective when done in position. If the table checks it around to you, throw in a bet for about ½ the pot to see if anyone actually connected with a good hand. Bluffing from early position is dangerous because you have no indications of whether other players have made their hands.

Outs / Semi-bluffing
If you sense your opponents are weak and you have some outs (such as a gutshot straight draw, or a flush draw) you can thrown in a semi-bluff. This is basically a bet to see how much your opponent likes their hand.

# of Players Involved
Bluffing against many players is a bad idea. Chances are someone will call with a hand that is better than yours. If you are going to bluff, it is better to do so against 1 or 2 opponents.

Your Table Image
If you have a very tight, conservative, and strong table image it will be easier to get away with a bluff. If you have been playing like a maniac, chances are your bluffs will have a lower success rate.

Conclusion: If you are just starting out as a poker player, perfect your game first before trying to bluff your opponent. Build a strong table image, study your opponents and wait for the right position and you should be able to bluff your way to some massive pots with relative ease.