In poker it's not only what's in your hand that counts, but also what people think is in your hand. If you bet as though you have better cards than you actually do this is called bluffing, yet the true skill is knowing when to bluff. A player who never bluffs cannot expect to win as much money as someone who bluffs with the proper frequency, most average players tend to bluff too much, particularly in limit games. When bluffing at the proper frequency not only do you gain by forcing opponents to fold winning hands but also you create an element of disguise with your legitimate hands.
Ways to Bluff In Online and Offline Poker
Poker players that are the most successful learn how to use a bluff that is well timed. Bluffing is, perhaps, the most discussed poker strategy, but it is not used as frequently as many believe. However, to exclude bluffing from the game of poker would make the game much less interesting. If you never, ever bluff, you become entirely too predictable and will miss chance to maximize your winnings and reduce the number of time you win at all. You bluff when there is no chance of your winning the pot or at times that you want to steal the pot before all the cards have been dealt. In a cash poker game, you can calculate whether the bluff will be profitable or not. In order to know this, you compare odds of making a winning bluff with the size of the bet required and the amount in the pot. This is an important skill to develop in order to determine how likely it is that opponents will fold.
The following are some factors to consider when deciding whether to bluff or not:
1. Type of opponent
2. Number of opponents
3. Your table image
4. Your "reading" skills
5. The board (if any)
6. The size of the pot
7. Your position
Type of opponent:
It is not wise to bluff weak opponents who simply call any wager; these players are called 'calling stations'. This is a common mistake so you want to be certain the other player is skilled enough to know when to fold their hand.
Number of opponents:
Generally, it is not a good idea to bluff against three or more other players, particularly when playing limit poker. A bluff will be more likely to work when used against a single player. The reason is not the fact that there is only one other play but because the pot is significantly smaller, making it less desirable to take chances.
Your table image:
If you have developed a table image of being a loose player rather than a tight on, a bluff is much less likely to be successful. If you have bluffed recently and been caught, other players will be much more likely to call your wager. However, reverse psychology can sometimes benefit in these situations because when a good player catches you bluffing, if he regards you as a good player also, he could think you would not attempt to bluff him again.
Your "reading" skills:
If you are able to determine what other players most likely hold through 'reading' the players, you can identify great times to bluff. This is, however, the most difficult of the bluffing skills to develop but it is the most important.
If you are playing a poker variation that have a board, should the board appear as if it could have hit the opponents or appears as if it presents the other players a range of drawing opportunities, it is very unlikely that a bluff will be successful. When the board has few draws or cards that are unlikely to help the other players' hands, then the bluff could work well. In these situations, if you can represent a strong hand, your bluff is more likely to work perfectly. If the board is uncoordinated and has a scare card which you can implement to represent a strong hand, this would be a great time to bluff.
The size of the pot:
Those playing against you are more likely to call when the pot is large because their pot odds rae better. Conversely, if you bluff successfully when the pot is large, your reward is much larger. You simply have to use good judgement when these situations arise.
A late position provides you with a lot more information about other player's hands. This makes late positions much better for bluffing than early positions. You may be in a late position and it is checked to you. If the board looks favorable and there are only a few players in the pot, consider a good bluff.
Do not take just one concept from these strategies for bluffing; you must consider all of them together when you are choosing whether it is a good time to bluff or not.