There is a saying which basically states that the game of poker can be learned in minutes and yet takes a lifetime to master. Yes, the rules are easy to learn. However, poker is a multi-faceted game. This means that it takes more than knowledge of the rules to walk away from the table a winner.
To excel in poker, a player must know about the other aspects of the game. A winning player must be adept at “reading the opponents” or “knowing the odds” or “money management.” However, there is one strategy that is most important and stands above all the rest. This one strategy must be learned early on and must continually be honed and improved to win.
This strategy is called “bluffing.” Bluffing is the act of betting a weak hand with the intent of driving the other players out of the pot.
There are different types of bluffing. One form is betting with a hopeless hand (or a powerhouse hand with the intent to lure the other players into a trap). Another form is betting on the inexpensive betting rounds to get a free card later on in the hand when the cost of bets doubles.
Yet another form is semi-bluffing, which is betting with a hand that has a chance to outdraw the other hands, but probably is not the best hand. With a semi-bluff, the player can win by causing the other players to fold, or if the opponent calls, the bluffer may catch the card he needs.
As mentioned, bluffing itself has many strategies. It may seem confusing how a beginner may start to master this strategy. The best way is to learn general rules and tips. A beginner can then come to the table with a good foundation for bluffing and winning.
Here are the top 10 tips on how to bluff.
- Limit bluffing against one or two opponents at the most.
- Getting caught bluffing can work out in your favor, especially if you can get opponents to call when you do have a strong hand.
- Avoid bluffs against experts or novices. Experts can see through bluffs, and novices just keep calling.
- Only bluff if there’s a chance to succeed, rather than to just advertise. Bluffing is not 100% successful, so bluffs can be picked off no matter how much of an expert you are.
- Do not bluff on a hopeless hand when there are cards still to come. In those cases, you can semi-bluff to get the opponents to fold or hope that you can draw a card that will give you a strong hand.
- A good time to bluff is when all your opponents checked on the previous betting round.
- Bluffs that represent specific hands (flush, straight, etc) have a higher chance of succeeding.
- Bluffing against players who checked the previous round is easier to bluff against than those who bet.
- A players seen as selective and aggressive will have a good chance of succeeding in a bluff.
- You can attempt to bluff with nothing, but if you have enough to beat a draw, save the bet and try to win in a showdown.
Remember that mastering the strategy of bluffing is an ongoing endeavor. Find more resources and learn from other players. Bluffing is definitely one of the most important strategies that a poker player must utilize.