Bluffing in Poker and Bluff Strategy
Bluffing in poker is the most sophisticated element of the poker game, since you’re no longer playing your hand for its value. The bluff that can be a daunting task at first, but you need to develop a poker bluff strategy. You’re strategy is essentially to try to mislead your opponent to win pots where you likely have the worst hand.
There are many types of bluffs from the smallest ones to carefully planned multi-street bluffs. An effective bluff is always the result of exploiting one of your opponent’s weaknesses and good judgment of the situation. You probably noticed how I didn’t recommend the bluff at any point so far. It was a conscious decision on my part, because I wanted to devote a whole chapter in this poker school to bluffing in poker.
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Poker Bluffing Strategy
Let’s see raising in position on the flop as the preflop caller first. It’s a good idea to do this against loose players who continuation bet with a high frequency, because they rarely have a legitimate hand when they do so. Make sure there’s no ace on the flop, and it also helps if by raising you represent some kind of a hand credibly. Flops like 223 and 459 are not ideal for bluff-raising, but KQ9, KT8 and QJ6 are. King high flops are usually good, because many people call with a K preflop, so you can represent two pairs or a pair of kings with a good kicker. It’s important to note that by raising you’re trying to win the pot right away, so you’d better make this move with a hand that has no showdown value, because with hands that could be good at showdown it’s better to call. You should normally shut down if your opponent calls, but sometimes it may be worth betting on the turn depending on the board and on your opponent.
Another weapon in your arsenal is floating, a powerful play against straightforward opponents. After calling on the flop, you’re planning to steal the pot by betting the turn if your opponent checks to you. Try and float on flops that rarely improve your opponent’s likely hands, but where you could have made one pair or better. Such flops are J86, QT3 and T88. Many aggressive players follow up their preflop raises with a contbet most of the time. You can call quite profitably, because you can expect him to check the turn without a hand, so when he checks to you, you’ve got a great chance to win the pot by a bet (the turn card should preferably be lower than the highest card on the flop to represent flopped top pair). It’s always nice to have some equity here (gutshot straight draw, backdoor flush draw, two overcards etc.), because you might have to hit if your opponent calls, but even when you have absolutely nothing it can be a good spot to attack if you sense weakness. On the other hand, if he bets again on the turn, you should obviously fold.
There’s no other spot where I recommend poker bluffing strategy as you’re learning the game, and even the ones I just mentioned should be used very carefully at first. But there’s another type of very effective bluff called the semi-bluff. It means bluffing with a draw. When you play a draw aggressively, you add fold equity to your hand’s equity, meaning not only can you make your hand on further streets but you can also win some of the time by making your opponent fold his hand. This is a very powerful strategy, especially in position, but with monster draws it can be used out of position too. If your opponent folds his one pair to your raise, that’s a good result, but even if he calls, you still have a good chance to hit. My advice is to run a big bluff only when you have good poker pot equity, and when you do, bluffing is a profitable play in many cases because you’ll make your opponent fold more often than you’d think. It’s obviously a bad idea to semi-bluff against players who never fold.
There are so-called orphan pots that you can steal in position. When everyone checks to you in a limped or raised multiway pot and you’re last to act, make a stab at it and you will be surprised how often you will win the pot. A typical scenario is when both the flop and the turn gets checked through. Since no one made a claim for the pot, it’s time to steal it in position by bluffing. It’s just a small bluff, but an important one, especially at small stakes.
Conclusion on The Bluff in Poker
When there are several calling stations at the table, there’s no point in using the bluff in poker. All you have to do against such players is wait for a hand and value bet, so you don’t need to be creative to make more money. In my view, bluffing is an integral part of poker, and it might be worth running small bluffs in certain spots even at weak tables, but it’s never a mistake not to bluff at all against such players. That will change as you will grow as a poker player, but it’s alright to play your hands for their value at first.
- As a beginner, rarely if ever bluff on the river!
- All bluffs should have a concrete goal, or you should not be bluffing.
- With 13 or more outs (48 % equity) you can’t get in too much trouble.
- A non-financial advantage of bluffing is that it makes your game strategy less predictable, learn to control your poker reads
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Good luck at the poker tables!
Team Chocolate Poker