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How to bluff in poker

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Poker is a game which requires a person’s intelligence, cunning, emotional control and instincts to come out on top. Without a doubt one of the most popular games out there, where massive riches can be made, if you have the right combination of those attributes.

There are also many strategies and techniques that will give you an advantage when playing Poker, if used correctly of course. The most famous of those techniques is the ability to bluff.

A bluff is the act of raising a bet or pretending that the hand you hold is strong or stronger than your opponent’s in order to win the pot by having your opponent fold their hand. A tricky and very difficult technique to master, but incredibly important to have in any true Poker player’s arsenal.

Of course, such a technique cannot come without its drawbacks, right? Absolutely.

Bluffing is one of the riskiest moves you can perform in Poker, this is because you are attempting to trick other players in believing that your weak hand is in fact strong – meaning if they do decide to call you on your bluff, chances are you are losing your money.

Furthermore, making a successful bluff usually requires you to put up a large sum as a bet as well as remaining icy cool, so other players are unable to tell that you are bluffing. And again, if they see through your bluff, it could mean trouble for your stack of chips.

Bluffing ought to be used with caution. Even the most seasoned players in the world will not have a 100% success rate with this technique, however, what separates them from mediocre players is that they are able to gauge when the perfect time to bluff is. Also, when they do bluff, they minimize their “tells” (a tell is an action or gesture that can notify other players that you are bluffing).

Use your best judgement when bluffing, minimize your tells, stay calm, cool and collected. These tips when followed correctly will increase the success rate of your bluff game and ultimately your Poker game as a whole.

If you look at it one way, bluffing is the heart and soul of poker. That’s why you have famous poker maxims such as ‘don’t play the game, play the person across from you’ and so on - because it’s all about outwitting your human opponents and getting them to think what you want them to think. But what if you’re  playing poker for real money  and you’re not sure if your opponent’s bluffing or not? Then the shoe’s on the other foot! Either way, here are a few tips to guide you through the intricate world of high-stakes poker bluffing.

Don’t be fooled

When you’re not playing online poker, physical tells are often useful in helping you determine a bluff. However, players who are bluffing know this and can often try to mislead you by giving you what you think is a signal of weakness. So be wary if you catch your opponent sighing before they make a bet, and think about how they’ve played up until this point - are they really that amateurish, or are they trying to lead you into a trap?

Talk is cheap (but dangerous)

Similarly, always be cautious when your opponents start talking. Unless you’re playing against the highest-level players (and sometimes even then!), talking is usually a sign of confidence - especially if what they’re saying is calculated to entice you into calling, raising or just staying in the pot by any means necessary. That means they think they have you and, unless you have very good reasons to think otherwise, you should get out of there.

Size isn’t everything

The size of your bet when you’re bluffing is hugely important. That’s quite obvious, but bear in mind that the size of your bet when you’re reacting to a potential bluff is equally  important - and bigger isn’t always better.

Let’s say that an opponent in late position has bid the maximum amount pre-flop. You suspect he’s trying to get everybody to fold (as indeed everybody else proceeds to do), so you call. The flop hits, and he bets again. You’re pretty sure that this is just a continuation bet and he’s trying to steal the pot, so you resolve to raise. The question is, by how much?

Here’s how you should look at this - if your opponent is bluffing, he’ll likely fold in the face of any aggression you display, irrespective of the specific amount of your raise. On the other hand, if he’s actually got a hand, then he’s unlikely to back down if your bet’s even bigger and that just results in you giving him more money.

That’s part one of our tips on how to bluff and not be bluffed - for more HOW TO BLUFF PART 2