How to Bluff at Texas Hold'em

Bluffing is an important poker skill only acquired through prolonged experience.

naked strip poker babe As we all know, bluffing at poker is the art of deceiving your opponent into making him believe that your hand is much stronger than it really is.

If you are a master of bluffing, you will be a feared and respected player at the poker table. Plus, taking down a pot that your opponent was supposed to win is an exhilarating feeling. If you can’t get to a position where your bluffs are believable then you would be better having a go at online blackjack instead where bluffing isn’t required. Or you could consider playing online poker where bluffing is much easier to pull off.

Note that at the low stakes tables of NLHE and even the mid stakes tables, bluffing is not essential for winning. But if you want to climb the poker ladder or simply become a solid poker player, you must practice and conquer bluffing.

Anatomy of a Poker Bluff

Here are a few words of advice to improve your poker bluffing skills.

You must believe that you have the cards you pretend to have, and act all the way as if you did. Otherwise your bluffs will be easily exposed, and your credibility will reach bottom.

For example, make sure to put enough chips in the pot when making a bluff, otherwise your opponents will be tempted to call, and this could easily lead to a more costly failed bluff than the price you needed to pay to make it a success, forcing everyone to fold.

In other words, trying to be cheap at the flop may end up costing you more by the river if you fire multiple bullets all the way and keep on getting called.

On the contrary, you must instill fear in your opponents. If you want to bluff, do it aggressively without going over board. For example if you bet a small amount in a big pot, your opponents will not fold if they have a decent hand. You have to bet sufficiently so that the borderline hands fold reluctantly instead of calling with an "it is cheap to call anyway so let us see the next street" attitude.

Bluffing occurs before and after the flop.

Before the flop, bluffing is mostly a matter of the so-called blind stealing and restealing, that is to say use your positional advantage with any two cards to take the pot down uncontested with one single raise. But this is a special preflop strategy that deserves its own article. Here we are talking mostly about post flop bluffs.

Post flop if the flop texture is not supportive of the big hands, such as 9-8-7 or three cards of the same suit, this is a good spot to attempt a bluff by representing the straight or the flush. If you get called, it is time to use the brakes as you are probably against a hand that is not afraid of the board.

Poker Bluffs and Your Image

One particularly effective strategy with respect to bluffs is to start by making a lot of bluffs. If you get caught once in a while in a small pot, your bluff will be unveiled and you will be exposed as a bluffer, i.e. a player whose bets will be questioned. Alternatively if you make a successful bluff for a respectable pot, flash your hole cards and you will be sure to get on the hate list of one of more players.

This type of loose aggressive image is great for bluffs, as the other players will try to "get you". Obviously what you are hoping to achieve is to get called all the way with a monster hand when your competitors are so frustrated they cannot take it anymore and want to give you a lesson. You have put them on tilt.

The best bluffs are the semi-bluffs. What this means is that unlike a bluff with air where you have absolutely nothing and cannot possibly win if you go to a showdown, a semi bluff is a bluff where you may hit a big hand by the river. For example drawing to a runner-runner nuts flush draw or a gut shot are two forms of semi-bluffs.

Semi-bluffs are ideal as there are two ways that you can win the hand. Either the other player folds or you may get lucky and hit your draw.

Bluffing without your ego

If it is easy to get carried away when bluffing, if you get reraised or called all the way by a loose player. Do not let your pride destroy your bankroll. It is crucial to know when to "abort the mission" and to stop adding more chips into the pot when it looks like your bluff is going to fail.

Successful poker bluffing relies on your ability to read your opponents well and to know when you are in a good or bad spot. The ability to fold after you started a bluff is necessary as well.

Pay attention to your opponents stack sizes when bluffing. A small stack is much harder to bluff as the player is in a "fold or shove" type of mental framework, so he may easily decide to call or even raise with medium strength hands. Similarly a big stack in a tournament can call you with no risk of elimination.

The ideal players for a bluff are the ones with about the same stack size as yours. They will tend to avoid potential all in coin flips situations.

Interestingly bluffs have the most chance of success against solid straightforward experienced players. Do not attempt a bluff against beginners or bad players, because they will not realize what you are representing or will be unable or unwilling to fold. Paradoxically, it is easier to bluff experienced players because they are aware that you can have a good hand if you bet aggressively, and they will fold more easily.

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