When playing online poker it is important that all players (not just the
successful ones) know when to make a well timed bluff. The bluff is probably the
most talked-about poker concept, although it is not used as often as people
Still, to exclude bluffing from poker would result in an uninteresting game: If
you never bluff you become too predicable and will not be able to maximize your
winnings, much less win at all. You bluff when you have no chance of winning the
pot or when you are trying to steal the pot before all the cards are dealt. In a
cash game, it is possible to calculate whether a bluff will be profitable or
To do this, you compare the odds of making a successful bluff to the size of the
bet and the size of the pot. Therefore, an important skill is the ability to
determine the likelihood that your opponent’s will fold.
The following are some factors to consider when deciding whether to bluff or
1. - Type of opponent
2. - Number of opponents
3. - Your table image
4. - Your "reading" skills
5. - The board (if any)
6. - The size of the pot
7. - Your position
Type of opponent:
Do not bluff weak opponents who call with anything (referred to as "calling
stations"). This is the most common mistake. Be sure that your opponent is a
good enough player to fold a hand.
Number of opponents:
In general, do not bluff a field of three or more players, especially not in
Limit poker. A bluff is much more likely to succeed against one opponent, not
only because it is just one player but also because the pot is usually smaller,
which makes it less desirable.
Your table image:
A bluff is less likely to succeed if you have a loose table image rather than a
tight one. If you were recently caught bluffing, your opponents will be more
likely to call you in the future, although reverse psychology can occasionally
prove beneficial in such situations. For example, if a good player caught you
bluffing and he regards you as a good player, he might think you would not dare
bluff him again.
Your "reading" skills:
If you "read" the game well and are able to put your opponents on likely
holdings, you will be able to identify good bluffing opportunities. This is
probably the hardest and most important skill to master.
If the board looks like it could have hit your opponents or presents many
drawing possibilities, a bluff is less likely to succeed. Look for boards
without many draws or cards that are likely to improve your opponents' hands. If
you can represent a hand, the bluff is more likely to succeed. An uncoordinated
board with one scare card that you can represent is usually a good bluffing
The size of the pot:
Your opponents will be more prone to call if the pot is big because they get
better pot odds. On the other hand, if you make a successful bluff in a big pot
the reward will also be bigger. This is when good judgement comes into play.
If you are sitting in late position, you will usually have more access to
information regarding your opponents' hands and, thus, will be in a better
situation to bluff. For example, if it is checked to you, the board looks
favourable and there are few players in the pot.
It is crucial that you consider all of these concepts when deciding whether to
bluff or not.
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