In the end, all of the cards will even out. The people who make the most money will be those who make the best decision, and steal the unwanted pots.
For this reason alone, it is essential that you look for good spots to bluff every now and then.
3 MAIN TYPES OF BLUFFS
1.) Quick bluffs
3.) Stone-cold bluffs
“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
HOW TO BLUFF
These bluffs are usually 1 street bluffs, meaning you’re taking one stab at the pot and then giving up if called or raised. A prime example of this sort of bluff is the continuation bet.
The continuation bet is probably the most used bluff in poker, and for good reason. You’re opponent will miss the flop around 65% of the time, so a quick bluff of about 50% of the pot is enough to get a profitable long-term result.
Another example of a quick bluff is if your opponent checks to you on any street, and you don’t have a made hand. So you choose to stab at the pot with a quick bluff in efforts of winning the hand right then and there. If your opponent calls you or raises, you can comfortably give up the hand and fold.
Semi bluffs are executed when you do not have a made hand, but your hand has considerable equity in the pot (you have a lot of outs that can come to win you the pot).
So you make a semi-bluff to try and win the pot right then and there. If your opponent calls you, there are still many cards that can come to give you the winning hand. This is also referred to as ‘betting on the come’.
A great example of this is when you have a flush draw, and your opponent checks to you. You may not have a pair or better, but roughly 33% of the time you will hit your flush card by the river. So you bet, hoping to win the pot right. However if your opponent calls you, you have a chance to hit your flush and make the winning hand to win the pot at showdown.
An extra point of value with semi-bluffs is that you can build the pot at the same time, so the times that you do make your big hand you can win bigger pots.
Stone Cold Bluffs:
Also referred to as ‘naked bluffs’, these are bets made when you have absolutely nothing, but you sense weakness in your opponent. So you just flat out try to steal it.
When a player is bluffing, sometimes they will bluff on multiple streets in the same hand. This is often referred to as 2 or 3 barrel bluffs.
The concept behind multi-street bluffs is that you believe your opponent may hang around for one bet, but not often for a 2nd bet or 3rd bet. Perhaps you put them on a draw or a low pair. This is a perfect time to throw in a 2nd or 3rd barrel on your bluff.
FINER POINTS TO YOUR BLUFF
How Much To Bluff:
Keep your standard bet sizing in mind when bluffing, however it is not a bad idea to bet a little heavier than normal when bluffing to make it tougher for your opponent to call.
Bluffing Before The Flop:
You can bluff before the flop by raising or re-raising your opponents with a marginal holding in hopes of taking down the pot right there. If your opponent calls your raise before the flop, you will usually want to continue bet on the flop. Remember that you are representing a top hand by re-raising them pre-flop.
Who To Bluff:
Generally speaking, you don’t want to bluff bad players too often. Inexperienced players tend to play too many hands and call down with bad holdings. So bet for value against them by waiting for top tier hands that will have them dominated. Bluffing bad players or ‘calling stations’ is a mistake that I still see good players make a bit too much.
Make sure to pay attention to your table, and make note of the tighter players. These are usually the best players to bluff after the flop, and even throw in a few multiple-barrel bluffs against. They usually require very strong hands to call multiple bets or get their money all in with.
When To Bluff:
Make sure that your bluffs make sense. What hand are you representing? Avoid bluffing just because you missed a draw on the river, as this is one of the most obvious bluffs to pick off. Instead stay in position, and bluff when your opponent checks to you on the flop and on the turn.
Understand Your Image:
Everyone always notices the loose player or the ‘bluffer’ at the table. Once you have shown down a questionable holding, or folded to a raise after showing immense strength, beware. The rest of the table has their eye on you, and will not want to fold decent holdings to your bets. This is another mistake that a lot of good poker players make. They fail to slow down and stop bluffing when they have a loose table image.
When you have a loose image at your table, bluff less.
When you have a tight table image, it might be a good time to attempt a bluff or two.
Have a Plan When Bluffing:
Similarly to all of your bets, you want to have a plan when you are bluffing. Are you planning on bluffing multiple streets? Will you give up if your opponent calls your bluff on the flop? You can deviate from this as the hand plays out, but make sure you have a basic plan of what you’re doing when bluffing.
Bluffing can be a tough element of the game to learn, and in general it comes with experience.
Remember that some great players do not bluff that often at all.
On the flip side, some bluff an awful lot. It is ultimately up to you to decide when to bluff and why.