How To Bluff in Poker
Knowing how to bluff in poker is one of the key tricks all serious players need to learn. However, it isn’t as easy as it might seem. A poker bluff isn’t just about what you say or do. It’s also about what you don’t say and what you don’t do. And, it can be a very risky tactic, especially if you’re playing for high stakes. Nevertheless, if you’re determined to give it a go, here are some top tips to get you started.
1. Understand The Risks
The first tip before you learn how to bluff in poker is to know what you’re risking by trying it. If you’re playing in a casino, your game could be NL (no limit) and the fewer players that are in the game, the more the price increases. If things go wrong with your poker bluff, you stand to lose a lot of money. Even if the players appear to be pretty bluffable, it might not be worth taking the extreme risk. And, and if you do, stick to your set limits and have a clear strategy and way out. Bluffing isn’t as common at a larger table as it appears in movies, and having good cards is usually a necessity since somebody usually wants a big showdown.
2. Know When Not To Bluff
If you’ve considered the risks and are still keen to bluff, know when to avoid it. In a tournament, never bluff someone who has a short stack and who will try to increase his or her bankroll by going all in or betting strongly. Conversely, avoid anyone with a deep stack. He or she can afford to call your bluff.
3. Know When Bluffing Is Worth It
If the stakes are high, bluffing could be a good option if your stack is middle or high. Short stacks are likely to go bust even if you have a weaker hand. A successful bluff comes when no one at the table is aware of it since everyone has folded before the final bet and you’re the winner by default. In the event of a showdown, it’ll become clear you’re a bluffer and that will affect your reputation in any future game. Only get into a showdown situation if your cards are reasonably good and be prepared to fold before a showdown if your hand is trash.
4. Reading Tells
Looking out for tells and analyzing them will help you to know when somebody is bluffing and will warn you of the signs you exhibit to others. Listen to other players if they say you’re bluffing and be aware of any subconscious gestures or movements you make that give you away. Once you know them, you can even use them to your advantage when you have a fantastic hand! To get a clue about other players’ hands, look at the way they put their chips down. If they’re put down strongly and at a distance, it could be a bluff. If they’re put closer to the player, it could be a sign of a strong hand. Also, watch body language, such as lip movements, eye twitches, flared nostrils, held breath, hand gestures, and scratching. They could all mean the player is bluffing. In general, if an opponent is acting strong, he or she could have a weak hand. Staring opponents down and faking smiles if a card hits can all be clear indicators of bluffing.
5. Work On Your Poker Face
Not only do you need a sharp intellect and keen instincts to win at poker, you also need a poker face, showing no inconsistent emotions and revealing nothing but a casual expression. You can practice this by only looking casually down at the corner of the two cards you’re holding, ensuring they’re face down. Stay deadpan and wear shades when possible so your eyes are expressionless. Avoid blinking and never shift nervously when the cards are dealt. Never express disapproval or approval when you see bad or good cards. If necessary, use a hat or some other prop to conceal your face. Beards are an option (for men obviously!), while hoodies, scarves, and sunglasses are helpful. Remember your neck can also give you away by showing flushing or changes in your breathing.
6. Start Bluffing
When betting pre-flop, you should try to represent that you have good cards so the other players either fold or commit. On the flop, you can raise, pressing players who have yet to fold or commit. Count the number of players who are betting – you have a better chance with fewer opponents than more. Don’t bet excessively or raise a bet that is already high. If you suspect another player has a good hand, you should fold. You need to build up a good reputation so opponents won’t suspect you of bluffing. Therefore, always make sure you have good cards during a showdown and turn over good cards if anyone suggests you could be bluffing.
7. Play A Mind Game
Seeming real and conservative is the best way to convince your opponents you’re telling the truth the whole time. That leaves you free to bluff even if everything’s going wrong. They’ll believe your hand is strong and you represent a genuine risk. You need to convince other players from the start of the game, following through with your bets so you tell a story. It isn’t convincing to suddenly go all in after the river. Consistency through the game is key.
8. Maintain The Bluff
Most importantly, if you have a poor hand and your opponent doesn’t fold following the river bet, never show any iffy cards. Instead, ask your opponent to show his or her cards and then declare that he or she wins. If your opponent asks you to show your hand, simply ask to see his or hers first, saying that he or she has the win. That way, you don’t have to prove a thing. If you insist your opponent wins, you can discard your cards still face down and never show the strength or weakness of your cards and he or she will be the winner by default.
Sandra is a manager working in big pharma who loves a good thrill. Excessive travel to poorer parts of the world meant that she was forced to limit her land-based casino visits to once or twice a year. Then she discovered the online casino universe. Since then she has been transformed into a real money online slots nut with a passion for learning how to take advantage of online casino perks. Sandra is a regular contributor to Rick’s Picks.
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