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Bluffing in poker is one of the most thrilling aspects of playing Texas Hold’em poker. But contrary to popular opinion among amateur players, becoming a successful bluffer involves more than just mastering your poker face. Keep reading to learn the psychology and thestatistics of convincing your opponents that you have the upper hand.
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Why should you bluff in poker?
It’s probably not like you need another reason to try and pull off a bluff as a newer player to the game, but I’m going to give you one anyway.
Bluffing allows you to take down pots that you would not normally have won, whilst adding some sort of ‘unpredictability’ factor into your play. Therefore if your opponents find it difficult to tell whether you are weak or strong in a hand, it is going to help you win money in the long run.
How to pull off a successful bluff in poker.
If I could tell you how to successfully bluff every time in poker through this one short article, then I would be the most sought-after guy in the world of poker. Having the ability to spot prime opportunities to bluff comes from experience at the table, rather than from a set of specific rules that you might read somewhere. However, this does not mean that I can’t give you the groundwork for a good bluffing game…
- To pull of a successful bluff, your play needs to fill two criteria:
- Your last action in the hand should have been strong.
- Your opponent’s last action in the hand should have been weak.
In a way, this basically says that the story of the hand needs to line up correctly, otherwise your bluff will fall apart. If your opponent has been playing weakly and you have been playing strongly, it makes perfect sense to suggest that a further strong play (i.e. a bluff) is likely to win the pot.
Conversely, it is almost suicidal to attempt to bluff an opponent off their hand when they have been playing strongly and you have been playing weakly, because it simply does not line up with the way the rest of the hand has been played. The more believable your bluff is, the greater the chance it has of working.
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Tips on the Psychology of Bluffing.
- Bluffing is a necessary part of your strategy. It’s not a question of if you should bluff, it’s a question of when you should bluff. If you don’t bluff at all, you’re likely to lose in the long run.
- Pace yourself. If you bluff too often, it’s more likely that you’ll get caught. The exception to this rule is when you’ve recently been caught bluffing and then land a great hand. Use this to your advantage by luring your opponents to raise.
- Take note of your table image. Even for experienced poker players, if you’re on a losing streak and your table image has been impaired, now is not the time to start bluffing. Chances are you’ll get chased by your opponents.
- Be aware of your opponents’ tells – especially the experienced players. You’re not the only player at the table who might be bluffing and you need to know what you’re up against.
- Exploit ‘scare hands’. When the community cards show the possibility of a strong hand, it’s a good opportunity to pretend that you hold the nuts. The downside is that under these circumstances, everyone else at the table can do the same.
- Beware of bad players. They might not have the skills to read the board correctly, and subsequently, to notice that you’re playing as if you have a strong hand.
- Compensate for your bluffing strategy when playing online. Since your opponents can’t actually see you, and since there are many novices at the online tables, it is more difficult for a fellow online player to notice when you’re trying to indicate that you have a strong hand.