An Introduction to Effective Bluffing
You cannot always count on a great hand when playing poker, so you must learn to perfect the art of bluffing. This is simply your ability to make other players believe that your hand may be much better than it actually is. If you do it right, you should be able to make a call or raise with nothing good in your hand and convince your opponents to fold.
If you bluff too much, it will be obvious and fail. If you bluff at the wrong time, then you will get taken for all you have. You will always be at the mercy of master bluffers until you learn this skill yourself.
Do Not Bluff When…
1. It is expected of you. Once your opponent catches you bluffing, they will expect you to do it again. This is why you should not do it for a period of time after being caught. Give your reputation time to rebound before you give it another try.
2. You are in a large game with many players. The more players at the table, the higher the odds that someone else will call because their hand is made.
3. Your opponents are clueless. An inexperienced player will continue to call without any thought to what you may be holding. You will easily get busted in the bluff simply because they do not know to be scared and fold.
4. You are on a losing streak. If you have lost for a few hands straight, your opponents will expect you to bluff out of desperation. One of those opponents may call you just to make sure you are not bluffing.
Consider Bluffing When…
1. Your opponents are weak or tight. Size up your competitors and determine whether there are weaknesses you can easily crush. Tight, weak players will fold if you so much as glare at them wrong, so you can bluff them into giving up winning hands. The only catch is you cannot bluff too early. You must time it so they actually believe your hand is strong.
2. Less than four players are in the game. Since fewer hands are dealt, the odds of someone having a great hand are lower. It is easier to bluff your way through a small game.
3. You are the last player to act, and everyone else is in. You may get some of your competitors to drop when you put on the squeeze as the last act, but there is still the risk that some will assume you are bluffing and give you a call.
4. Your pre-flop bet was a miss. If you had a strong hand when you bet pre-flop, many of your opponents will assume your hand is still strong on the flop. If they are convinced you now have a nice hand, they are likely to fold.
5. You have beaten the fear into your opponent. If you have beaten your opponent royally and you know they are frustrated or annoyed, you have the respect you need to pull one over on them. Set up a scenario that looks like you are about to beat them in the same way again, and they may just fold to avoid the hit.
The Art of Semi-Bluffing
A semi-bluff gives you three opportunities to win a hand:
1. Your opponent folds immediately.
2. Your draw bumps you up to the best hand.
3. You land a scare card and bet out on the next round.
There is some level of truth to your moves when you use a semi-bluff, and you need to accurately calculate the odds when using this move. Consider the following examples of how semi-bluffing should work.
1. You have 8,8 in pocket, and your opponent raises on the pre-flop. You call, and the flop is a 3- -9 rainbow. You can assume that your opponent has over-cards, AK, KQ, A10. In order to prevent your opponent from getting his cards on the turn of river, you place a bet to see if they will fold and give you the pot.
2. You have a J, 10. The flop lands Q -9 -5, and you have an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. Your worry is that one of your opponents have the ace or king of hearts, so you place a bet to see if your opponents will fold. Worse case scenario, you get to see where you stand at the moment.