How to Bluff in Poker — 10 Tips for Beginners

You have just started playing poker, and you want to learn more about bluffing. These useful tips will help you master bluffing in no time.

How to Bluff in Poker

There must be trillions of different questions haunting you when you are a poker newbie.

What is the best game to start with? How important is to observe experienced people play?

But in my opinion, most of the beginners at the poker table want to discover the secrets of a good bluff and to use their bluffing skills as an edge over their rivals.

This article will help you master the skill of bluffing and will also teach you when it is an opportune moment to apply it during a game.

So if you want to start playing online poker right away and you want to beat your opponents at Texas Hold’Em by bluffing, keep on reading.

Different Playing Styles

Before we address the issue of bluffing thoroughly, let’s see what kind of playing styles you can see various poker players exercise in their games.

Tight Play

Tight players are immediately recognizable in a game because they don’t take part in many hands. They like to play it safe, and they play only the hands that they think will take the pot.

When a tight player gets well into the game, you can be sure that they’re holding a strong hand. This kind of play can get you some winnings for a while, but it will definitely become too predictable in the long run.

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Loose Play

If you are thrilled with every hand you get, and you think that you can make a winning combination with anything, then you are an example of a loose player. These players use every opportunity to get in the game, hoping that the flop will get them the wanted cards. Loose players almost always call every bet and tend to stay in the game for as long as they can. It is not easy to predict the cards of a loose player, as they often manage to beat their rivals even with weak hands. On the other hand, when you’re playing loose, your chips fly in the pot at the speed of light, so experienced players can make you break your bankroll by constantly making you call their bets.

Aggressive Play

This playing style in combination with tight play may be the winning combination that will push your opponents off the poker table. When you play aggressively, you raise often because you want to force other players out of the pot.

This kind of gameplay usually takes the pot, especially if you are surrounded mostly by passive players who prefer to fold, rather than raise the bet. However, if the poker table is crowded with aggressive players, things can escalate quickly.

Passive Play

Let’s make it clear — nobody likes a passive player because they only follow others and are often too scared to take any big risks. You will never see these players raise or take the initiative in the game. The only good thing about having a passive player in a poker game is that it is fairly easy to get them out of the game by playing aggressively.

Now that you are familiar with different types of poker players and poker playing styles, we can focus on the main question at hand: ”How and when to bluff in a poker game?” Here is a list of tips you should apply to your play to become good at bluffing.

Choose the Appropriate Playing Style

The main reason poker players bluff is because they want to trick their rivals into folding in the earlier stages of the game, even though they may be holding a better hand than them.

And in case you’re holding a strong hand, don’t immediately go all in. Instead, start by slowly raising before the flop — after all, it’s in your interested to make people bet as much money as possible before you beat them with it.

The curious thing about bluffing is that it works better with tight competition. Bad players or players that are new to the game tend to hold on to their cards no matter how useless they are. So don’t ever force a bluff on someone who doesn’t want to fold.

The Importance of a Favorable Position

Favorable Position Poker

The position at the table is also a thing to pay attention to when deciding whether to bluff or not.

The old poker sharks will try to discourage you from bluffing. All in all, it is not a good thing to stick to in every game. However, when a situation at the table is favorable, bluffing can be a good idea.

There are some positions at the poker table when you can bluff to get an additional advantage over other players.

The positions later in the match are always favorable because you can see how others have played and adjust your gameplay accordingly. So if you are one of the players to play last at the table, feel free to use your bluffing skills. On the other hand, if you are at the small blinds or the button spot, you can try re-raising before a flop and put your opponents under pressure.

And if you want to try bluffing during a poker tournament, it is advisable to wait for the later stages. Don’t bluff at the beginning because the blinds are still low, the pot is modest, and your rivals are filled with chips. Alternately, if you start raising when the stakes are high and the chip numbers are low, it is more likely that others will fold.

Semi-Bluff

Semi-bluff is a situation where you wait for the flop to open so that you can see what you can do with your hand. You should do the semi-bluff if you’re holding a good hand with a promising range. This means that the additional cards to the flop will definitely help you form a winning hand.

So if you are sure your hand will get better as the game proceeds, start raising to build up a pot. Either way, the aim of bluffing is not to have the strongest hand, but to make other players fold before the showdown.

Be Prepared to Bet Big

Before even considering bluffing, you have to make an important decision on how much betting money you are ready to invest in your bluff.

You can’t play aggressively and make others fold by not putting a considerable amount into the pot. You have to seem terrifyingly strong to your rivals, and that won’t happen unless you make large bets.

However, don’t get carried away raising the pot because you can stay empty-handed in no time. So if you really want to bluff successfully, you have to bet at least 10 times the Big Blind in three betting rounds to make it convincing.

Start the Game Right

If you decide to try to win the pot by bluffing, you should devise a proper poker strategy and start the game properly.

The best possible start is to re-raise before the flop to indicate you have a strong hand. If someone else has already done that, follow that player, or even raise their bet.

You can also wait for the first card to be added to the flop to start bluffing. If, for example, an Ace shows up on the table and you are the first to place the bet, play aggressively because your rivals will think that you’ve just got the Ace you needed to complete a killer hand. However, often enough, the truth will be that the flop missed you by far, but that is the point of bluffing.

Perfect Timing

As with everything in life, the perfect time to bluff in a poker game is key. These are the situations when you should always try it.

  • If you are one of the last players to act in a preflop round. You have already seen other players’ moves, so you should raise, especially if they all played tight.
  • When there is a pair of low-numbered cards in the flop and you can’t make anything of it — try bluffing because the cards you need might still be in the deck.
  • When the tournament is getting closer to the end, and the bankrolls are tight. Try raising to force others to break their bankroll.

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Learn When to Quit Bluffing

If you have followed all of these tips in your game, but you still have one rival who doesn’t want to back down, just drop the act.

Some novice players won’t take this advice though because they are afraid of being caught bluffing, so they will go all in on the last betting round and break their bankroll if someone challenges them. Don’t be afraid to fail when bluffing — this is all part of the game, and you will perfect your bluffing skills over time.

Here Is When You Mustn’t Bluff

Never try to bluff when you play first or are somewhere in the middle of the table. There are many players yet to act in the round, and you don’t know what moves they are going to make.

If you didn’t chase away most of the players by bluffing, give up this strategy. The chances are that some of them have completed the winning poker hand and that you won’t be able to chase them out.

Don’t engage in bluffing with a modest bankroll. If you want to be successful in bluffing, you have to scare off your rivals by placing big bets. If you are not prepared to place at least ten times the Big Blind in each betting round, don’t even start it.

Bluffing is all about taking initiative in the game and demonstrating power. So if you want to bluff, you should always bet or raise. If you start to call, you will show weakness and ruin your cover. No one at the table will believe that you have a winning card combination in your hands.

Last but Not Least

Poker is a casino classic that everyone should enjoy playing. Whether you’ve just decided to join the ride and start learning the basic strategies or you are an old poker shark, you should always have a good time at the table.

Conclusion

If you’ve decided to try to bluff, follow these tips and soon, you’ll become an expert at it. If, however, you’ve tried bluffing and it didn’t go as planned, don’t give up on poker altogether. Keep on practicing different strategies until you find the one that fits you perfectly. Good luck and have fun at the table!