Is bluffing a good thing? If there’s one element of poker that everyone seems to really understand, it’s definitely bluffing. At least they think they understand it. Most people new to the world of poker tend to overdo the value of bluffing to the point where they make it obvious that they’re bluffing. Now, is there a time where you want your opponents to assume that you’re bluffing? Of course there is. However, like most tools of the psychological warfare scene, bluffing can get crazy when overdone. Your opponents assume that you’re really not doing a good poker run, and they tend to avoid bluffers like the plague.
Does that mean bluffing is dead or that you should give up bluffing? Absolutely not. You will want to make sure that you really get excited by keeping things fresh.
Bluffing should be a spice that you add to your poker game every once in a while. While you don’t want to telegraph every move that you make, you might want to make sure that do a few power moves every now and then.
How do we pull off bluffing without looking foolish? Glad you asked!
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you really know when to bluff. You want to bluff when you’re playing higher limit games, where the stakes are a bit higher. In addition, you want to go for smaller pots and build your chips up over time. Everyone will be expecting you to hit those large pots with bluffs, so you don’t want to get too worked up every time the chip count on the table gets high.
You need to make sure that you know your players inside and out. Are they playing a loose game of poker? If so, you might want to stay away from bluffing too much. This is because when it comes to loose players, they’re going to play just about every hand they have to the very end — making them a losing value proposition to bluff against.
The number of players in a specific hand matters as well. You need to have as few opponents as possible to force out of the pot. It’s a common sense point but it does matter — make sure that you really don’t go too hardcore on a pot where there’s just too much competition.
Speaking of going hardcore, you want to think about the type of hand that you have. If you don’t have a strong hand and you know there’s no chance of you winning, that’s called a pure bluff. Most players will have more success with a semi-bluff where there’s a chance that your hand will grow into something stronger.
When it comes to successful betting, the key here is to make sure that you are getting your timing right. You don’t want to just run with a bunch of calling — calling will not get you to bluffing status. It’s the ways that you bet and raise that will get you the attention you’re looking for.
Every now and then it’s good to bet before the flop, just in case you’ve got a pattern of never doing so. This will start changing your playing behavior, which can throw players off your trail. Are you going to have to lose a few chips here and there until you get the betting process down pat? Of course you are. Yet that’s the part about strategy that gets fun — over time, you make fewer and fewer mistakes which gives rise to the fact that you will eventually overcome problems and save money as well. Managing your bankroll is a topic that we hash out to death on this site, but it really is one of the most important concepts of poker. When you really think about it, everything in poker is about preserving your bankroll and growing it to higher and higher levels. When you decide to get into the world of bluffing, what you’re doing is trying to stretch your bankroll.
Is it risky? Most things in life are pretty risky. You will need to look at the playing position you’re in when it comes to bluffing as well as the position on the board. It’s easier to pull off a bluff when you’re at the river instead of at preflop. This makes players really think that you have something.
The last note that we have is to avoid theatrics — remember that poker is a mind game of all mind games, but acting like a donkey is going to make you look like a donkey — just keeping it real!