Poker is not played in your hand but in your head. All anyone knows on the table is their own cards, which makes it difficult to have absolute confidence in the hand you’re holding. There is no controlling the cards but there is definitely a way to exert your influence on your fellow players: bluffing.
Having a good bluff is vital to winning at the online poker tables by inducing folds from your fellow players when they, in fact, have better hands than you.
Players will not do this if they believe their hand is better than yours. Your actions must follow those of a player confident in his hand, hopefully with the end result of bringing in the chips that were not originally going your way with the deal.
Bluffing is a common tactic in all games so the first thing to consider is the frequency in which you use the tactic. Nobody is going to be fooled if you go in on every hand, regardless of its percentages. They will challenge you on your bluffs, forcing you to slink away with fewer chips.
However, it is also worth noting that bluffing too infrequently will also indicate to players around you that you are only playing with strong hands. They will simply give you some hands because they know you will most likely win.
One way to stump your opponents is to assign a random agent to decide whether or not you bluff on your hand.
Let’s say, you are dealt a weak hand and are unsure of whether or not to bluff or fold. Pick something random and out of your control to help you decide. Use a clock or timer. If the minutes in the hour are at an even number then bluff, but if it is odd then do not. It would take a keen eye to spot a pattern like this.
The Pure Bluff
So, what is a Pure Bluff, or if you would prefer a Stone cold Bluff? Well, let’s just say this is high risk and you better be good at bluffing to pull this one-off.
Essentially, this is when you have a weak hand that has a very limited chance of winning on its own merit. So what you are doing is taking the risk by hoping that the other player or players fold and don’t call your hand. The fewer the players the better with this kind of bluff.
You may be able to bluff one person into folding but increase that number and you are increasing the risk of some calling your hand significantly.
However, on the flip side of this, there are some players who are brave enough to play a pure bluff purely to trick the other players. For instance, you have a terrible hand and call a pure bluff. But, you don’t mind being called because you are hoping that the other players misread another bluff. A brave move that one.
The Semi Bluff
Ok, we have talked about the pure bluff being when the hand you have has no chance of winning. So a semi-bluff applies when your hand does have some potential to improve as the game progresses.
In other words, you would apply this in multiple betting rounds. Basically hoping to either fold or improve your hand well enough to take the pot.
When to Bluff
Bluffing is a skill that must be drawn upon carefully. Don’t bluff and your opponents will know that you are playing for value only. It is essential to follow some simple rules and you will be on much safer ground than being caught out constantly and throwing all of your chips away.
- Reduce the risk by bluffing with fewer players, when attempting to make them fold.
- Make sure that the pot odds are against the other players.
- Observe the consistency in the way the player bets, when a player is attempting to represent a superior hand when bluffing.
- Look for when a player’s betting could suggest an average hand.
- Check for if a player is betting with a drawing hand. They will be chasing for the draw if the pot odds are not in their favor.
- Always make sure that your opponents are skilled enough to play your bluff. Also if their mind is not on the game 100%.