Bluffing in poker has always been a key ingredient to the game. The ability to keep your opponents guarded or cautious about your intended play, is extremely useful, and can increase your frequency of winning hands. The keys to bluffing are to determine whether your opponents are bluffing, to be aware of reasons to bluff, and to be aware of reasons not to bluff.
How do you determine if your opponents are bluffing during the course of a poker game? Certainly, understanding the process, is key to maximizing your gains. Some of the reasons another player may bluff including the following:
1) With only 2 players left in a hand, it is usually easier to fool just one person, as opposed to many;
2) If pot odds are in an opponent’s favor, you can expect an increase chance of a bluff;
3) If an opponent comments on the superiority of their hand and he bets, chances are that a bluff is occurring;
4) If an opponent wagers after the Flop, but checks after the Turn, there is a pretty good chance that your opponent is bluffing;
5) If the Flop does not have any draws, this is a scenario where a bluff can be expected;
6) If an opponent bets after both the Flop and the Turn, but decides to check on the River, there is a good chance that a bluff is occurring.
When is a good time to bluff in Poker? Of course, the element of surprise is always a good reason to consider bluffing, but the following scenarios offer especially good times to consider deceiving your opponents:
1) Consider bluffing early in a hand against tight players that tend to fold quickly;
2) If you are in a hand late in a game, and all other players have checked, it may be a good time to consider bluffing;
3) If the Flop is fairly poor, it may be a good time to consider bluffing;
4) Your chances for bluffing success increase, when only a few players are left in a pot, as opposed to many;
5) If you bet pre-flop, and don’t have a good hand after the Flop, you may consider bluffing since your opponents are not aware of the fact that you are not doing well post-flop;
6) Another great time to consider deceiving your opponents, is when there is a pair on the Flop, and it is less than dual 8’s. The rationale here is that odds may be with you that opponents folded already that have low cards;
7) If you are known to be a shrewd poker player, your reputation may be enough to scare people when you stay in a hand;
8) If you are in the Small or Big blind, and all others have folded by the time the play has reached you, this may offer a great time to bluff.
Just as there are good times to bluff, there are excellent reasons why you should not bluff. Some of these are outlined below:
1) If you have recently been caught with your pants down bluffing, then you should consider not bluffing;
2) If at all possible, avoid bluffing, when your opponents would expect you to bluff;
3) Avoid bluffing against inexperienced players. As much as novices enjoy bluffing, nothing gives them more pleasure than trying to catch a bluffer in action;
4) Avoid bluffing like the plague, when there are lots of players still remaining in a hand, as the odds of one of them being able to beat you is great;
5) Avoid bluffing against a Flop that looks strong. In this scenario, the odds are great that you will get beaten at your own game;
6) Although this may seem to go against a reason to bluff, consider not bluffing if you are at a blind position, since other players may believe that you are bluffing due to your position at the table;
7) If you lose a real tough hand or sequence of hands, do not consider bluffing. In this scenario, your opponents may feel a desperation motive on your part, so it is probably not a good idea to stretch the truth in this instance.
In summary, the aforementioned techniques can certainly be used to enhance your poker game. The judicious use of bluffing and non-bluffing can dramatically increase your winnings over the long haul.