Bluffing is one of the best parts of poker. Is there a better feeling than when you beat someone with a better hand? Or how about when you know someone is bluffing and you call them on it. It’s a great part of a great game and knowing how to do both will take you a long way.
However, what happens when you move to online poker rooms? How do you bluff someone who can’t see you or know when a person you can’t see is bluffing you? There are definitely ways to do it and it will only improve you as an online player and an in-person player as well.
How to Spot a Bluff
Much like poker games played in person, you must get to know your opponent’s habits. How they bet and how they wager will tell you a lot about their cards. If you have seen him make the same bet over and over, hand after hand, after he misses his draw, go ahead and call that bet with second-best pair. It’s a fact that online poker play is a little more wild than in-person.
People are a little more aggressive when playing online for one reason or another. Maybe it’s the anonymity. Whatever the reason, it makes it tougher to recognize a bluff on betting patterns alone. What you want to look for is someone making an abnormally large bet out of the blue. Basic strategy will tell you if you have a good hand, you want to keep you opponents in the hand, keep them raising so you can collect a larger pot.
A large bet out of nowhere suggests over-compensation and should be called. Online players are much more daring so don’t waste too much time studying them, simply note their bet sizes. Know your opponent, know how they bet, look for discrepancies, and call them on it.
How to Bluff Online
Just like spotting a bluff, bluffing in online poker can be pretty tough and isn’t really recommended as a strategy. When you are facing only one or two players it can work but, as mentioned, online players are more aggressive and will call all the time.
This gets annoying if you are looking to build a pot or if you are trying to bluff. What you can do is a “half-bluff,” especially if you are in position. A “half-bluff” is simply a bet or raise with a hand that has a few built-in outs to improve what isn’t the greatest of hands initially. If you can play the handout, catch a card or two and your hand improves, great.
If not, your steady play will be enough to bait opponents into a fold. Being in position and playing steady is the best bluff there is online. While you should never out and out bluff with a garbage hand online, playing out a hand that could improve is the way to go.
Remember, you going to run into a lot of bluffing online. Most of the time, you won’t know if your opponent, in fact, has your hand beat. It may be best to ignore the betting and time patterns of your opponents and focus on their past hands.
When you want the chance to pick up an extra pot or two, try a half-bluff instead of a straight-up bluff. If you are trying to steal a pot online, you’ll need a few outs to have a chance. This can work twofold as if you hit and get a card that improves your hand, you’ll just look like you got really lucky.
And this appearance of simply being lucky will pay more dividends down the line. Your opponents will be more inclined to play with you and add to the pot when you have big time cards a few hands later.
Acknowledge the Bluff
When playing online the most important aspect of the game can be to simply acknowledge how the game is going. How is everyone betting? Is there a ton of bluffing? Who is raising the most? And when?
Many online poker players have a regular game with friends or regulars that they recognize and get accustomed too. As if that is the only way poker is ever played. This goes out the window online. Someone playing wildly different than you are used to does not necessarily make them a bad player.
Just different than what you are used to. If fact, they could be quite good, busy winning pots. Although we don’t recommend it, online players may be bluffing you. Over and over until it seems as if they haven’t a clue what they are doing.
The key for you is to acknowledge that something out of the ordinary is happening and you must adapt to win or simply walk away. Either way, you’re being honest about what is happening and are better for it.