Reasons To Bluff In Texas Holdem

Poker For DummiesAfter the last article that provided reasons NOT to bluff, I’d like to talk about good reasons TO bluff. Like all things in poker, bluffing has a right time and place. The last article talked about when you shouldn’t bluff, so it’s only natural to follow up with an article that talks about when you should bluff.

A strong bluffing strategy provides two major benefits to your overall poker game. First of all, bluffing helps you win pots that you shouldn’t win. Every pot that you win with a bluff is a pot that you would not have won by playing a straightforward game.

The second benefit to a strong bluffing game is that it makes you an unpredictable poker player. This makes it easier for you to get paid on your strong hands. This benefit is difficult to quantify, but it does have a major impact on your game. If you look at some of the top high stakes pros, one thing you will notice is that it is extremely difficult to put them on a hand.

When to Bluff #1 – Your opponent is scared

Scared opponents are the best opponents to bluff because they have a high fold percentage. Tight poker players who have read a little poker strategy are among the best targets for bluffing. These guys know they have to play tight poker, but they have not yet transitioned into fully aware poker players. You can spot these poker players by looking for people who play a straightforward game and wait for big hands.

Weak TAG players are prime targets for bluffing. These guys know how to play a tight preflop game, but they suffer from weak play after the flop. These players get scared by big bets on the turn and river because they have been burned by big hands in the past. If you pay attention, you can spot a weak TAG at almost every poker table.

When to Bluff #2 – You have shown strong hands recently

This is a pretty obvious poker tip. If you’ve shown a few strong hands recently, you are more likely to get away with bluffs. This one is all about table image. If you show a couple of big hands, the other players at the table will perceive you as a straight shooter. Any bluffs you make during this time are more likely to succeed.

When to Bluff #3 – You are in late position

Late position is one of the best times to bluff in poker. When you are in late position, you get a chance to see what all the other players have done before you make your move. People are skeptical of late position bets these days, but your opponents will still have a hard time standing up to a bluff when they have weak hands in early position.

The late position bluff works wonders on the flop and turn. Not only is it fairly cheap to place a bluff on the flop or turn, but it puts additional pressure on your opponent. Your bet on the flop or turn implies that there may be more action coming on the river. Unless your opponent has a legitimate hand, he’s going to find it easier to just fold the hand now and be done with it.

When to Bluff #4 – You look like you have a strong hand

Successful bluffing is all about telling a believable story. Your betting pattern from the beginning of the hand has to tell a story. For example, a preflop raise and a bet on the flop is a story that adds up. It implies that you started with a strong hand and are happy with that hand. This strategy is much more successful than randomly bluffing when you miss your draws.

When to Bluff #5 – You have a strong draw

Bluffing when you have a draw to a legitimate hand is also known as semi-bluffing. The advantage to bluffing when you have a real hand is that you have backup. If your bluff gets called, you still might hit your hand. If you’re lucky enough to hit that hand, you will win an even bigger pot than had you played it in a straightforward manner.

But take note: a strong draw alone is not a good reason to bluff. The primary purpose of semi-bluffing is to get your opponent to fold right now. You should still have a reason to believe your opponent is capable of folding. The draw is just a nice backup plan in case your bluff doesn’t work.

Posted in Texas Holdem

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Founder/CEO of MDG, professional writer, and sports handicapper as well as small stakes poker player.

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