Bluffing 101

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Bluffing 101

The Poker Strategy of Bluffing

Bluffing is used to deceive other player’s into thinking you have a better hand when you really don’t. In order to make the bluff work, you need the other players to think you actually have a better hand by betting or raising.

Bluffing should be done at the right time and done sparingly. Remember, everyone is looking for their own opportunity to bluff. Here are some reason why you shouldn’t bluff.

When Not to Bluff

Player’s Expect You to Bluff: You were caught bluffing and now labeled as a poor bluffer. Don’t stick you hand in the cookie jar until you rebuild your reputation as an honest player, then try to bluff later.

Against Too Many Players: The chances are that someone has a made hand and they’ll stick with it.

Against Bad Players: Bad players have no idea what’s going on. They’ll call you regardless, because they aren’t concerned with what you have. They want to improve their own hand, so they’ll call just about anything.

You lost a Series of Hands: Players will expect you to make some crazy moves to make your money back (playing on tilt). They’ll be ready to call you down.

Again, bluffing should be used sparingly. Here are some scenarios where a typical bluff should be taken into consideration:
The RIGHT Time to Bluff

Against Weak or Tight Players: Once you have a general idea of how your opponents play, your biggest targets would be pounding the weak and tight players who tend to fold easily. However, bluffing too early won’t make them budge; they may not believe you have a better hand or maybe holding a strong hand of their own. (Refer to the table image section)

Few Players in the Pot: It’s easier to trick a few individuals (1-3) rather than a small group. Fewer hand out there, the chances of someone making a reasonable hand are slim.

Everyone has checked and you’re last to act: Betting will force a few players out of the pot, but not all (also known as squeezing). It’s pretty common to see someone bluff and bet on the button, so most of the time players will call because they won’t believe you have the better hand. It’s also a good poker strategy to see where you stand.

You Bet Preflop and Missed: You’re holding an A Q and bet preflop, and the flop comes down K -8 -5 . Other player’s may still think your hand is strong because of your bet preflop. So a bet on the flop would make your opponents think you’ve hit nicely on the flop.

Player’s Fear You: If you won a hand through a good play, and see your opponent a bit aggravated or show respect by commenting on your hand, then trick them in the future by running the same play that beat them. They will more likely fold to your bluff if you play it right.

Semi-Bluffing

A semi-bluff is a partial bluff with some truth in that play. With a semi bluff, you can either win by them folding right then, by improving to the best hand, or by catching a strong card and betting out on the following round. You should have general knowledge of calculating odds before attempting a semi-bluff. Here are a few examples of when to semi-bluff.

Example 1: You’re holding 8 8 in the pocket, someone raises preflop and you call. The flop is a rainbow of 3 – -9 . It’s likely your opponent has overcards (AK, KQ, A10). You don’t want your opponent to catch any of his cards on the turn of river so bet to get the pot then and there.

Example 2: You are holding a J 10 and the flop comes down as Q -9 -5 . At this point you have an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. You should be concerned with someone having the king or ace of hearts. So betting at the pot might make them fold or give you an idea of where you stand.

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