Poker has so many intriguing qualities. There’s money, pressure, strategic decision-making, competitive banter, luck and of course, psychological warfare. In poker, so much attention is paid to head games. Entire strategy guides are devoted to first-, second- and third-level thinking. Does he know that I know he knows that I have nothing? That sort of thing. The most famous psychological play in poker is the bluff. Here are some tips to help you improve your bluffing abilities when you play poker online.
What’s in a Bluff?
There is a variety of ways to bluff when you’re playing poker. A pure bluff is the boldest type of bluff you can make. When you raise the pot with two hole cards that have absolutely no value, no chances of improving and no relation to the board whatsoever, this is a pure bluff. In live poker, pure bluffs can be tough to pull off.
If you are an inexperienced player trying to bluff a seasoned player, you will likely give off physical tells that will betray your trash hand. You may start to act overly nervous or disinterested in the action at the table. In online settings, it’s easier to pull off these maneuvers, but you still have to be cautious. If you are playing against calling stations or recklessly aggressive players, they will likely call your bluff. If you are up against a tight player, then your odds of bluffing successively are greatly increased.
Semi-bluffing is a bluff with benefits. When you make a semi-bluff, you are raising the stakes with a hand that has a chance to improve. Let’s say that you’re on a flush draw. You’re holding two hearts and two hearts came down on the flop. In order for you to hit your flush, you need one of the two remaining cards to be a heart. If you decide to raise in this situation, you are making a semi-bluff. If your opponent folds, you win the pot outright. If you get called, you still have a chance to improve your hand and possibly win the pot.
It’s Easier to Bluff Online
Bluffing in person is a lot more difficult than bluffing online. When you bluff in person, you have to sit still and wait as your opponent probes you for any sign that you are full of it. Opposing players can look into your eyes and force you to give up some sort of physical tell that you are, in fact, bluffing. None of this stuff takes place online. Let’s say that you’re playing in late position. There’s an ace on the board after the flop. Everyone checks to you. You immediately bet the pot. Unless someone is slow-playing top pair, or has a strong desire to play a drawing hand, you will likely win the pot with your quick bet. Just make sure that you reevaluate your position if you are reraised. Folding a bluff is okay. You may be trying to project strength throughout most of the hand, but if your story isn’t sticking, or if you just think that someone has you beat, go ahead and fold.
When there’s nobody staring you down, it’s much easier to make fib bets. Save your bluff attempts for when you are one of the last players to act. Don’t try to bluff someone who refuses to fold. Target the tight players and the passive types when you want to pull off a successful bluff in online poker.
- Don’t bluff bad players who don’t know when “they’re supposed to fold.” When you’re trying a fancy play on a calling station, you become the fish.
- Don’t always bluff with the same draw. You should semi bluff quite a lot, especially when you’re in position. But this doesn’t mean that you always should do the same thing. If you sometimes raise with flush and straight draws and sometimes call, your opponents will have a hard time putting you on a particular hand.
- Bluff tight and solid players, especially those who are not comfortable with the stakes and afraid to lose their entire stack.
- Bluff in position rather than out of position
- Tell a convincing story. Don’t just make a bold bluff on the river. Think about what you and your opponents have done on earlier streets. Ask yourself if it’s obvious that you’ve hit your hand.