Bluffing can be an important part of poker. It is easy to over use this tool. It is very common that players bluff to much but it is rather rare that a player bluffs too little. It is very easy to get lost in the thrill of the bluff. To value the satisfaction of a successful bluff without making sure that you actually win more than you loose with your bluff. In this article we are going to look a little closer on when and how to bluff.
Everything that I will write below is meant for players that play with $1/2 stakes or higher. If you play at a table that have lower stakes than that then you will not make any money using the techniques I am going to describe below. Players at tables with low or micro stakes are usually very aggressive and it is hard to bluff successfully. I recommend refraining from bluffing altogether if you play low stake tables. Semi-bluffs can be a powerful weapon on these tables.
It is very important to only bluff at the right time using the appropriate strategy. If you bluff randomly you might as well click your way over to a casino and play the slots. We are not saying that it is anything wrong with playing slot machines and other casino games but it is not a way to make money. Casino games require luck not skill.
Bluffing pre-flop is seldom a good idea. You have to risk a lot of money for a small upside. There is not enough money in the pot to justify the risk associated with a big bluff bet. Allow the pot to grow bigger before you try to bluff.
There is one except from this and that is the lite 3Bet that can be considered a bluff or at the very least a semi-bluff. This is only a good option if you have low suited connectors. It gives you the chance to win the pot directly or after the flop. If you are lucky and hit the flop you might be able to win a very big pot. It will be very hard for the competition to read what you are holding. They might interpret any following bets as continuation bets and call them without a second thought. If you are lucky they might even raise the hand convinced that you missed the table.
The flop should be played differently depending on your position. You should never bluff from an early position with the exception of continuation bets. In a late position you can choose to bet at the pot in an attempt to win the pot uncontested. If you want to buy the pot from a late position you should choose to bet 60-75% of the total pot value.
One of the most common bets on the flop is the continuation bet. The continuation bet is a bet that you make on the flop if you raised pre-flop. It is a bet that you do regardless of whether you hit the flop or not. The goal with the continuation bet is to indicate that your hand remains strong and thereby hopefully forcing the other players to fold. If your continuation gets called it is usually a good idea to stop trying to bluff the pot. In some cases it can be good to make a second continuation bet on the turn to win the hand. The second continuation bet should only be done if you feel certain that it will win the pot for you.
You should consider calling if you think another player is making a continuation bet. By calling you are setting yourself up for a float. A two step betting technique that can be used for bluffing. If the person making the continuation bet checks on the turn you turn the heat up by making a large bet, 75% of the pot. This will hopefully cause the opponent to fold. This play can made regardless of your cards.
The turn is the most underrated part of any poker hand. Many people doesn’t give it the respect it deserves. This is sad since it is in many ways the first round of betting that reflects the cards on the table. In many case the flop is just a continuation of the pre-flop game. The betting on the turn will not be overshadowed by the pre-flop betting in the same way. This is why the float technique as I described above can be so powerful.
You will need to be able to read the hand and you opponents to be able to successfully bluff the turn. The tighter table image you have the more hands you might be able to bluff. Bet aggressively if you think no one has hit the table.
The turn is a great time for a semi-bluff. The more outs you have the better your position will be to place a semi bluff. If a semi-bluff get called you might still be able to win big if you hit one of your outs. If you do you can usually win a large pot.
The river provides you with unique opportunities to bluff. All players now know their final hand and can not hope to improve their hands. This makes players more likely to fold then they have been under earlier stages of the hand. Players with a draw no longer have any reason to stay in the hand unless they hit whatever they where drawing for.
It is generally best to fold your hand on the flop unless you believe that you have the best hand on the table. You can use this to your benefit by indicating a strong hand regardless of your cards. By betting you can force the other players to fold unless they think they have the best hand.
If the rest of the players have checked then you can usually win the hand by placing a mid sized bet. If other players are betting than it is usually best to fold. If you want to try to bluff you will need to make a significant bet. 75% of the pot is usually a god size.