One of the toughest maneuvers to pull off when playing poker is the bluff. Oddly enough, it is not because players are bad at bluffing. In fact, most experienced players can tell you the proper times to bluff. However, the problem with bluffing is that many players are afraid to pull the trigger when they have a great opportunity. There are many reasons for this. Getting caught on a bluff can be embarrassing. It makes you look like an amateur. Plus, if you get caught, you lose, which always leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The art of the bluff, as with most things in poker, is best when made simple. That said, when the opportunity is there, you’ve got to take it. Pulling off one good bluff can be a game changer to your session, but you’ll never be able to take full advantage of a bluff until you try. Here we have a few keys to remember in order for you to have the confidence in yourself and your hand to pull off a successful bluff.
Know Your Opponents
If you’re going to attempt the most daring play in poker, be sure to have a decent understanding of who you are trying to bluff first. We all know a few players that simply never fold a hand when they have a top pair or better. They refuse to do so, and they want to see your hand no matter how badly they’re beaten. They make the same bad calls on the river all the time against other players.
Knowing this, you then find yourself in a pot with this person on the river, and you’ve completely missed your hand. You want to keep going, that’s human nature. After all, it’s the only way you can win now. However, you have to fight this urge. Take a moment to remind yourself who you’re playing and simply let this hand go. Save that bet and live to move on to the next hand.
Now take that same situation but replace the types of players. This player is a thinker who takes his time at the table. He tries to make the best play and often gives his decisions a lot of thought. He prides himself on his solid play and isn’t shy about telling people about it. He might even show a fold face up just to impress the table with his hand-reading ability and his knowledge. Everybody knows a guy like this, and they’re the perfect player to bluff if you happen to find yourself in the right situation. Some players set themselves up to be bluffed; others are too hard-headed to try to bluff. In order for you to pull off a bluff, you’ve got to know who you are up against.
Know your situation
Simply put, your bluff needs to make sense for it to have the best chance of working. If you haven’t been taking any aggressive action when other people have shown weakness, and now at the end of the hand you bluff trying to represent top pair, you’re going to have a tough time. That’s a hard sell. Especially against more observant players, you want to make sure that your bet/bluff, as well as your previous plays in the hand, are along the lines of what someone would expect you to do if you had the hand you are trying to represent. This advice is especially important in no-limit. When your actions are inconsistent, and things don’t make sense to your opponent, they are far more likely to call your bet. This advice also applies when you are facing a potential bluff. Think back through the hand. Does your opponent’s play make sense? If something doesn’t quite add up, chances are a call is in order.
Bluffs are one of the strangest plays in poker as everyone is afraid of being bluffed yet, no one ever really tries to bluff. Just the threat of a bluff is enough to upset a table for several hands thereafter. The bluff is a power play and carries a lot of weight. This is another reason many never get the guts to try. So, the next time you have an opportunity to bluff. Take it. Don’t hesitate and jump right in. The bluff is a great tool to have but in order for it to be effective, you’re going to have to use it. Give it a try and take the stigma off of it. Adding it to your arsenal is important if you want to be a good poker player and the only way to learn it best is through experience. You’ll get caught more than once, but you have to use these experiences to learn from.