When Is The Best Time To Bluff?


When Is The Best Time To Bluff?

Many beginner poker players are wondering about when is the right time to attempt a bluff? Once a player has learned the fundamentals and have got the basics down, it’s time to start playing a wider range of hands. It is a natural progression that takes place as a player gains more confidence in their game. When you adjust to a more loose aggressive style of play, bluffing is an essential part of your game, as more often than not you will not have the best hand at showdown, but it’s important to understand when you should bluff.

Playing a more aggressive style is important for a few reasons. It makes you unpredictable and dangerous to play against, and helps you to get paid off when you make strong hands. That said, it also does put you to a lot more tough decisions, as you will frequently need to apply pressure to get your opponents to fold, when you don’t expect to have the best hand, which will be often, and you will frequently flop medium strength hands, which can be tricky to play.

Hence, the reason you should only consider playing a looser style once you can play ABC poker quite profitably. After you are familiar with the fundamentals of playing solid tight aggressive poker, to justify playing an even more aggressive game, it’s time to start looking at good bluffing opportunities when you expect to get folds.

Although it can be nerve wracking especially if you’re naturally a fairly timid player by nature, having the ability to trust your reads and incorporate more bluffs into your game will allow you to pretend you have a big hand, and therefore convince opponents to fold. But you should only bet as much as you think you need to in order to get your opponents to fold.

Stealing the blinds from late position

In the case of blind stealing, you don’t have to bet much at all. A possible scenario would be if you are in one of the late positions during the pre flop betting round. With only a few players still left to act, if the action has folded around to you, it can be a great opportunity to attempt to steal the blinds. You might question the usefulness of blind stealing since even when it works you only win the blinds, but the accumulation of lots of these small pots adds to your overall win rate quite substantially in the long run.

Whether you should attempt a blind steal depends on the number and type of players still to act. In the cutoff, you still have three players still to act so you should steal less than when you are on the button position, where you only have two players left to act and position on them. But it also depends on the players who are still in the hand. If they are tricky to play against they might not give your steals that much credit and look to re-steal from the blinds, so you will want to tighten up in late position. In other words, take what you can get.

Betting on a scare card

Another situation conducive to bluffing is when you have taken the pre-flop betting lead, you have continued to bet on the flop and been called, and don’t expect to have the best hand, but a scare card comes on the turn, opening up a great opportunity to apply maximum pressure on your opponent with another big bet, since you can represent the card that just hit and which made the board look more scary.

Just as importantly, it is a card that smashes your pre-flop opening range, so you can realistically continue to represent it even when you don’t have it. It is a very tough decision for your opponent to call if they haven’t got much of a hand, since they will probably expect another big bet coming from you on the river, which is why it is such a great play in these situations.

Semi-bluffing is a good strategy to use against tight players

Semi-bluffing is a powerful weapon in your bluffing arsenal. You should be aware that whenever you are bluffing that it is advisable to try to do it not just when you sense weakness, but when you have some “outs” and a reasonable chance to make the best hand the times you do actually get called. This is known as semi-bluffing and this strategy can provide the best opportunities to expand your bluffing skills. If you try a stone cold bluff with no “outs” to win, when you do get called, you will be “drawing dead”, which is never good.

Conclusion

The ability to bluff successfully in poker by stealing more blinds and betting scare cards to take down more pots can drastically improve your win rate and be the difference between being a winner and loser in the game you are playing.

Also, executing a successful bluff involves knowing your opponents. It would be a good idea to limit your bluffing when playing in low stakes poker games as these games will be packed full of fishy players that don’t like to fold that much.

If you see a player calling a player down with middle pair or top pair weak kicker, then it is safe to say they get attached to their hands and are just trying to get lucky. Don’t try and bluff these players. They have no idea you are representing a big hand when you bet the scare card on the turn or river. Save your bluffs for players who you think are weak and know are capable of making folds.

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