Bluffing is essential to playing poker and is a great tool in both cash games and tournaments. While it’s not very efficient in say a limit or pot limit game as it is in no limit its one of the more overused strategies with beginners. In order for it to be successful you will need to time it accurately in order to pull off a bluff. Players need to take into account various situations both past and present before attempting to steal the pot away from their opponent. The following is a basic overview of things to look for before you bluff a pot.
Don’t Bluff The Table – If you have more than one or two opponents who have seen the flop, turn or river the odds are that they have a hand and depending on your opponents style of play they could call your bet. A bluff is best performed with the smallest number of opponents than it is with a full table.
Get To Know The Other Players – If you’re playing an opponent who folds at the drop of a dime with anything less than the nuts and you feel they have a mediocre hand you can probably steal the pot from him. However if your opponent is continuously calling right to the river card with bottom pair you can expect them to call your hand. These players don’t like to fold and often will pay just to see what you have.
Did The Board Complete Their Hand – If you have been betting your hand and missed completing it you can still take a stab at raking in the pot if you think your opponent has missed as well. If this happens and the other player checks to you placing a bet may push them off their hand. As mentioned before, this only applies when up against a tight player.
Bet Like You Mean It – This is vital especially in tournament play where more times than not a player will get called because he has given players the odds to do so. You need to be more than the minimum if you want the players to fold their hands. In most cases you will need to place a large bet equivalent to at least the pot or slightly more. You don’t need to over bet, since this can tip off the players that you are certainly trying to get them to fold.
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Before you decide that you want to bluff someone you should take into consideration some if not all of these tips. Your goal is to get them to fold and by placing weak bets, not reading them properly and going up against too many players you can wind up losing your chips faster than you put them in.
Last but not least if you have been caught red handed bluffing you should not make a second or third attempt since the odds of you getting called by mediocre hands is increased significantly.