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Getting Away With A Bluff
Bluffing is an integral part of any poker game. Unfortunately, a lot of players don’t understand how a bluff should be presented, and more importantly, when a bluff should be used.
If you’re deciding that you’re going to bluff the next pot before the hand even starts, then you’re off to a very bad start. Many players picture such a scenario in their mind. They think that they’re going to play a certain way to clearly indicate that they are strong and steal the next pot. It doesn’t quite work like that. The problem with that approach is that you’re only considering the image you’ll be projecting when in fact you should be considering so much more data.
Everyone knows you can’t bluff every single pot, and you can’t get away with every single bluff attempt you make. The thing you need to understand about pulling off a bluff is that timing is everything. You need to look for cues and indicators that will trigger your mind to the possibility of a bluff, and for cues that tell your brain not to bother attempting a bluff.
In order to bluff successfully, you must read your opponents well. Why is reading your opponents so important? Well, it’s quite simple really.
You don’t want to bluff an opponent who has a strong hand; you want to bluff the ones with the weak hand. Remember, the whole idea of a bluff is to get other players to fold. Bluffing implies that you have no hand, or a very weak one. You do not want to get called. This is why timing is important because you want to bluff when you sense weakness out there, and you can only do that by learning how to read your opponents. If you detect strength, perhaps a bluff attempt is not your best move.
Another factor you need to consider is the number of players involved in the hand. If there’s five opponents who all have some chips invested in the pot already, bluffing everyone is going to be hard. Additionally, from a pure mathematical standpoint, the odds that someone makes a hand and beats you will increase for each player involved in the hand. It’s much easier to bluff one person than it is to bluff three at once.
Finally, you need to pay attention to the exposed cards. If you’re playing Hold’em or Omaha, the board cards are shared with everyone and you need to watch for opportunities, but also be wary of danger flops.
For instance, when the flop presents a straight potential, a flush potential, a pair, and high cards, these are all opportunities to bluff. You can pretend to have made a flush or a straight. However you also risk facing an opponent who actually made the hand you’re pretending to have. This is why it is important to read opponents well.
Also remember that bluffing should be used in moderation. If you get caught bluffing too frequently, not only will you loose a lot of chips, but you will also loose credibility for a future attempt. The more you fail, the harder it gets to bluff successfully.