Poker players can’t always count on catching good cards. To win consistently, they must know how to bluff.
Bluffing doesn’t come naturally to some players—but surprisingly, it’s often players who are disinclined to bluff who bluff most effectively. Opponents pick up on these players’ conservative nature and believe that they must truly have good cards when they raise, reducing the odds that their bluffs will be called. Women have a big advantage when it comes to bluffing, too. Many male poker players believe female players don’t bluff. How to bluff effectively…
When you play poker against opponents who don’t know you well, the way you play early in the game has a substantial effect on whether your bluffs are believed. For the first hour, play very conservatively. Do not bluff at all.
After the first hour, bluff with approximately 5% of your hands. Any more than that, and the odds of getting caught quickly increase.
If you do get caught bluffing, bluff very rarely if at all for the remainder of the game—your opponents will be much more likely to call your bets once they catch you bluffing. On the bright side, this makes it more likely that your bets will be called when you have good hands.
Helpful: Don’t bother bluffing in games where the stakes are so low that your opponents seem unconcerned about losing money and multiple players remain at the end of most hands. It’s often very difficult to bluff effectively in friendly, low-stakes home games and at $1/$2 casino tables.
Select bluffing hands carefully, based on four factors…
Opposition. Bluff when all the players remaining in the hand are skilled, tight players—that is, they play well and play relatively few hands. Unskilled players often are too stubborn or oblivious to fold even when you create the impression that you have a strong hand.
Table position. It’s generally best to bluff when most or all of your fellow players must act before you. That way you can gauge your opponents’ strength before making your move.
Board. In Texas Hold’em, the best opportunities for bluffing are when there’s a pair on the board or the potential for a straight or flush. Opponents easily can imagine that you caught a big hand.
Size of the pot. It’s not worth risking your conservative table image unless there’s a big financial upside.
Inexperienced players often tip off their bluffs by trying too hard to act like their hands are strong when they’re weak and vice versa. Instead, think to yourself that you have the strong hand you’re trying to convince your opponents you have, then try to prevent your expression from betraying your happiness about this. The result will seem much more authentic.
When you bluff, the size of your bet should be similar to the amount that you would bet if you actually had the cards you are pretending to have.
Source: Sheree Bykofsky, a literary agent and professional poker player based in Brigantine, New Jersey, who hosts an annual poker boot camp for women in Albany, New York, sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She won a World Series of Poker Ladies’ Circuit Event in Atlantic City and is coauthor of Secrets the Pros Won’t Tell You About Winning Hold’em Poker (Lyle Stuart). www.Shereebee.com