For many players, nothing comes close to the feeling that you get when you pull the trigger and attempt to bluff your opponent out of their pants. Nothing will get your heart beating faster or get you trembling harder than watching your opponent contemplate whether to call your bet or not.
And of course, while they are trying to make their decision you are just simply screaming in the back of your mind, “Please fold. Do it this one time.”
But as fast as your heart may be beating, it will simply stop if you hear the words, “I call.”
This will happen to everyone at one point in their poker career, but it is important to take those situations and learn from your mistakes. You just simply need to ask yourself, “What went wrong?”
Well, to be honest, many things could have gone wrong.
Bluffing – When Should You Do It ?
To pull off a successful bluff, it is important to consider many different factors, as this will help prevent a bluff from blowing up in your face.
What is your image ?
If you are portrayed as a loose aggressive player or a maniac, then it is possible that your opponent just simply does not believe you. At this point, they are willing to call with a wide range of hands because they feel as if it is possible for you to have nothing but two high cards or an Ace and any other card. And if you are a maniac or just a very loose player, then this may very well be true.
On the other hand, you could pull of a successful bluff if you were a tighter player and not involved in every other pot.
It is important to remember that your opponents are watching you, so if you are aggressive then a bluff is going to look normal. When you are considering a bluff just put yourself in your opponent’s position and figure out what you look like to them.
What is your opponent’s image ?
This is just as important to factor in as knowing what your image is. If your opponents are calling stations, does it really make sense to bluff them? They will simply call your bet regardless of what they may have.
Loose, aggressive, or maniacal opponents will be similar. It will be difficult to try to push these guys off a hand and if you do, you will probably have to fire several shells to do so.
The ideal opponent to bluff against is someone ‘smart’ enough to fold a hand if they feel that they are beaten. These players are generally tight aggressive or just plain rocks. In either case, they will know how to fold and are more willing to do so if they are facing pressure and do not have the nuts or close to it.
What are you representing ?
In other words, what hand are you trying to represent? The whole idea behind a bluff is to tell your opponent, “I have something and it is better than your hand.” If you just call pre-flop, check the flop, check the turn, and then fire a river bet, that is going to look awfully suspicious. Sure, it is possible that you have something but any decent player will be looking to get some value out of their hand before the river, so that of course will stand out.
On the other hand, if you raise pre-flop, c-bet the flop, and fire a bet on the turn, then you have shown nothing but aggression and have told your opponents that you have a hand and do not plan to go anywhere. Depending on your image, you are more than likely to get a fold here then if you were to act weak or uninterested until the last moment.
Another thing is to consider what the cards are on each street. If you try to make a large raise when a deuce comes up on the turn or river, it really will not make a lot of sense, especially if it does not coordinate well with any of the other cards on the board.
What does the board texture look like ?
The board texture is going to be a huge factor when deciding on whether to bluff or not. If your opponent is a rather decent player, they are going to have something. So what could they have and does it look like they caught a piece of the flop?
Depending on your opponents and the stakes you play, many times it will be difficult to bluff on a draw heavy board. Many times players are willing to push it in on a draw of some kind or even top pair.
It is a good idea to bluff on very dry boards where your opponents are likely to have nothing or very little at best. This way there is a lot of pressure in a situation where they may have nothing more than pair.
How many players are in the pot ?
Simply put, if there is more than one other player in the pot besides yourself, then it would be virtually pointless to try to attempt a bluff. Why is that? Well, the more players that are in the pot the more likely it is that someone has made a hand of some kind. It is hard enough at times to push one player off a hand much less trying to push two, three or even four players off a hand.
Bluffing in Poker
As fun and as thrilling as bluffing can be, it is no different then any other strategy. If it is abused then it can become quite costly. However, if the factors above are considered when making the decision to bluff, then it is possible to run a successful bluff and come out with a nice pot. The bottom line to making a successful bluff is to just make sure that they make sense.
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