It is just about impossible to overstate the important of the right bluff in poker games. In very basic terms, a bluff happens when you put up a false move (and a false face) on what you have in your hand. You’re trying to get your opponents to respond in a particular way. To be a good bluffer, you need to understand the basics of the game you’re playing (Let’s say Texas Hold’em) and spend some time sharpening your reading skills. You have to be able to read the thoughts of the players around you so that you can put together an optimal plan for the win. You also have to know what types of players are at the table with you and have built the right sort of image for yourself at the table so that the bluff will work. Here are some tips to help you succeed when the time is right for a bluff.
Be selective with your hands (No matter if you play free online poker or real money poker).
If you’re going to have legitimacy with your bluff, you can’t play every hand. You should keep your bluff ready for the times when it gives you the highest chances of winning. This keeps some people from developing skill with the bluff because they simply don’t want to fold – because they just want to be part of the action. They will lose a lot of money. If you develop a reputation for folding unless you have a quality hand, they will start folding when you bet.
Don’t try to bluff a bunch of people at the same time.
When you have more than two opponents, bluffing will almost never work successfully. You’ll never be able to scare more than two people off the pot. Why? Because there is a higher probability that someone else at the table has a solid hand. And then you will be exposed.
Do not bluff against rookies.
Rookies are new to the game and want to play every hand to its resolution. No matter how strong (or weak) their hands may be, they will keep calling and keep going to the end. So if you have a pair of 3s, that rookie could just have a pair of 4s and play all the way to the end – and end up beating you. They do this because they still don’t understand how poker works. There are ways that you can take advantage of this, but bluffing isn’t one of them.
Act like you have the winning hand.
If you are making a bluff, you should always act like the person who has the winning hand – and be cognizant of the pot odds. Players are less likely to fold if the pot is bigger, because they have some more to gain by staying in. If the pot is already small, people are more likely to fold and wait for the next hand which could have more money. So if the pot is large, don’t bluff. Remember – you can only bluff so many times before people see it coming.
Break your own trend.
If you are regularly betting according to the same philosophy, mix it up now and then by throwing in a bluff. The bluff should not be your primary strategy – or method. However, every now and then it makes sense to throw in a bluff. Your opponents will not be expecting it, and it will force them to alter their perception you. If they are confused about your intentions, this could make it easier for you to pick up pots further into the game.