A Guide to the Basics of Bluffing in Poker

Basic guide to poker bluffing

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Posted by: Ivan

A Guide to the Basics of Bluffing in Poker

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There are many components that go into poker. Different players use these various components to their advantage, depending on which works best for them. One of the most frequented tactics used by poker players across the world is bluffing.

There are few players (and it really is only a few) that never bluff, especially in Texas Hold’em, and once you have figured that out, they’re the easiest to play.

It means that if the cards come out and they bet, you can just throw away your hand unless yours is particularly strong.

Not having a bluffing strategy as a part of your game-plan will hurt your results in the long run. This will become more and more obvious as you climb the stakes and go up against better players. They'll quickly pick up on any leaks you might have in your game and look for ways to exploit them.

Of course, there are other people in the game who are veteran bluffers. They are so well versed in the art that it's impossible to make heads or tails of what they're doing.

These are some of the best players out there since a good bluffer can make for a very tricky opponent. So, with that in mind, if you’re playing poker, are you bluffing often enough?

If the answer is no, you should definitely change things around, which is why below is a helpful guide to the basics of bluffing.

Granted, thanks to the ability to gamble online, the art of bluffing is not as crucial as it used to be, especially given that the World Series of Poker is now largely being played online as well. That being said, bluffing is still a useful skill to have, and you definitely need it in the virtual environment, too.

Keep Your Opponents Guessing

Don’t find a tactic and stick to it. If you’re caught out as being someone who bluffs all the time, you’ll be just as easy to beat as those who never do it. Never cement yourself at either end of the spectrum.

Instead, keep varying how much you bluff and keep your opponents guessing.

You are going to cause much more trouble around the poker table if you have an unpredictable style of play as opposed to if you simply always lie or never lie (bluff). You will probably find that when you are playing low-limit games, players bluff a lot more often.

At the same time, bluffing at higher stakes isn’t as frequent, but when it does happen, it’s usually in tricky spots. You need to make sure your bluffs make sense and put your opponent to a real decision.

Always keep your opponents guessing

Simply put, if you bet $10 into a $200 pot, you can’t really call it a bluff. Your opponent needs to be right so infrequently that they can call you down 100% of the time and have the right poker odds to do it.

The Threat

Using bluffing the appropriate amount will mean that not only do you have the actual skill of the bluff, but you also have the threat of the bluff.

Players around the table will constantly be second-guessing themselves as to whether or not you’re bluffing. This will cause them to question their own poker hands and play into yours.

Both the threat of the bluff and the bluff itself are designed to help players win in the spots they couldn’t win otherwise. All you have to work with is the hand you are dealt, so don't make it easy on your opponents, and don't leave things up to chance alone.

All this being said, you don’t want to have the reputation of someone who’s always bluffing. That will lead to other players looking you up way too often to keep you honest, significantly reducing the effectiveness of your bluffs.

Threat of poker bluff is a powerful weapon

Try your best to keep things balanced. As long as you sometimes show up with strong hands as well, the threat of your big bets will remain high. Other players will be afraid of them as they won’t know when you’re bluffing and when you actually have to goods and are going for the value.

In Summary

Bluffing is a skill that is used by professional poker players all over the world. The bluff, combined with the threat of the bluff, enables players to win hands and keep their opponents guessing throughout the game.

It is important not to lean too far to either end of the spectrum when bluffing. If you never do it, your game will become predictable. If you do it all the time, the same thing will happen.

If you want to read more about this topic, check out our bluffing strategy tips. These should provide you with some more insights into the fine art of bluffing and how to effectively incorporate it into your standard game plan.

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