Bluffing is a vital technique in any poker player’s armory. Being able to bluff successfully is arguably the most important skill a poker player can possess, as it gives them ultimate mastery over the luck of the draw. A good bluffer can still win the game with a bad hand, whereas the player with a potentially winning hand can be convinced to fold by an expert bluff.
Know your opponent
There are two types of players that are hard to bluff: really good ones and really bad ones. Of these, it’s easier to bluff a good player than a bad player. A bad player doesn’t think about what they’re doing and will go all in regardless. They don’t even try to read their opponents, don’t have a strategy, and call far too much. That kind of player won’t win many games but, at the same time, they’re almost impossible to bluff, so don’t bother trying.
Read their reactions
While a good player will always try to maintain the classic ‘poker face’ they will also be constantly reading their fellow players emotions and reactions. Are they playing too aggressively, or constantly checking their cards? Do they seem tense or relaxed? Learn to interpret gestures, facial expressions and body language, but be aware that these could all be part of a bluff on their part.
Look at yourself
You may also attempt to mislead with your gestures, but the best tactic is to seem calm and unperturbed at all times. If you’re seen as a tight, cautious player then your bluff has a better chance of being believed. If you’re seen as loose, wild, and someone who bluffs too much then you’ll get called. Learn to bluff just the right amount, so that your opponents are kept on their toes.
Check the narrative
A poker hand is like a story with events that have to fit the narrative. If your bluff is too unlikely in the context of that narrative then it’s less likely to be believed. It’s certainly possible that you made the flush on the river, improving a weak hand as the game went on, but if nothing up to the point of the bluff indicated any kind of flush draw then will your opponent be convinced that one has appeared out of nowhere? Playing poker online at an NJ online casino is a good way to hone your playing and bluffing skills in every way.
Time it right
As in most aspects of life, timing is everything. Choose the moment when your opponent is most likely to fold. Your position relative to the other players is also important. Bluffing from a late position is obviously preferable, as you get to see how the other players react, but bluffing from an early position may succeed precisely because it’s unexpected.
Bluffing too much is a classic rookie error, but any good player needs to be able to bluff effectively when necessary. Knowing when to fold rather than bluff is part of the same skill set. A semi-bluff, where you still have a chance of succeeding even if your bluff is called, is more likely to succeed than a full bluff. You also need to bet enough to rattle your opponent, but not more than you can afford to lose.
Keep practicing as you play and soon you’ll be bluffing with the best.