Bluffing Correctly

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With its outset popularity, Texas Hold’em has been played for many years now, and with its popularity has come many different strategies in adapting to the game. With poker comes a brand of different play styles and players, not only making the game more enjoyable, but also more challenging. Texas Hold’em has been a bar favorite since its upbringing in the early 1900s, and it seems it will hold this title for a long time to come. One of the most commonly used tactic in Texas Hold'em is the “bluff”, a move that one player uses as their hand, whereas they will do something extreme to bring attention to the table. This usually entails “going all in” with a large chip amount, but other variants of bluffing do exist for other reasons. If used correctly, a well-placed bluff is sometimes all you need to bring in a hefty center pot.

Why Should You Bluff?

Bluffing, if done correctly, has many advantageous factors that makes it a viable options in some Holdem cases. The biggest reason one would bluff is because they are trying to keep the opponents of the match guessing. This is done so you aren't contained throughout the whole game, you are keeping your play style fresh and deceiving when you bluff every once in a while. This also allows you to appear in a better card position then you may currently be in. Another big reason one would bluff is if the pot is large enough in the round, where an individual may have a weak hand, but through bluffing, they are able to confuse their matchups, allowing them to ultimately win the hand by forfeiture.

What Are The Types Of Bluffs?

Generally, in Texas Hold'em, there are two types of bluffing used in matches, full bluffs and semi bluffs. Full bluffs are the most common used, and the participant usually uses this move as a desperation attempt to make the opponents fold right after the move. Typically, in full bluffs, higher bets are used than semi bluffs, as the player’s ultimate goal is to force the other players to fold on demand. Full bluffs are usually played in the hopes that the next player in rotation after the placement of the bluff will not “call” or match the bet, as the original bluffer has very little chance of winning after the call. For example, if a player has been playing the entirety of the match with a pair of twos, with no other good cards, they may raise the bet significantly in order to scare the other players to a folding, as they will not be able to win the match by a standard flow. Semi bluffs differ in the fact that the bets are usually smaller, and there is actually a good chance you could still win the hand, even if the bet is called.

When To Bluff?

The right time to bluff will ultimately depend on your playing style, but most times, bluffing is used when you think your opponents will fold. Very rarely are bluffs used out of the blue, and very rarely do players bluff in order to raise the bet. In order to have a good bluff, you need to keep your bluffs random, but slim. This way, you aren't exaggerated the bluff, and your opponents won't catch on to what you are trying to pull off. Study your opponents, as this is a necessity in any serious Hold’em match, for only then will you be able to time the bluff right. If you notice your opponents don't seem confident in their hand, as the bets are staying at a low amount, you could use a quick bluff in order to get a quick and easy win. This way, you can win hands very quickly, which will not only bring you in more chips, but it will also force your opponents to rethink their strategy. If used correctly, bluffs can severely lower your opponent's confidence and self-esteem in the poker match.

Things To Consider

There are many factors that will contribute towards your decision to bluff or not, but they are usually grouped in three distinct categories.

1.    Your Matchup- Make sure if you are bluffing, you are the only one doing this, as two bluffing parties in a game makes it very predictable. Make sure when you are studying the other players in the game, you are noticing their playing habits, and look out for any weaknesses that can be used in your advantage towards winning the hand or game.

2.    Position- Bluffing is best rewarded for those in a dominant position in the game, as you can afford to lose major hands if you are leading the game. By establishing a good position early in the match, you can make your opponents doubt their skills, and it will appear you are inferior to losing the match.

3.    Hand Strength- Your hand strength will ultimately decide if you are choosing a full bluff or semi bluff. If you have a garbage hand, a full bluff is usually used in order to confuse your opponents, if you have a decent hand, you might be able to get away with just going with a semi bluff.

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JF Bouchard

J.-F. Has been working around as a consultant for NATO for about 10 years from which he truly lived the James Bond lifestyle. Working around in war theaters along side the military and other Security experts and traveling to the most fabulous places in the world. J.-F. has trained in different Martial Arts, learned to fly Helicopters and basically learned the real tradecraft stuff on the ground. Added a few perks here and there, still living his life to the fullest.