Bluffing, especially for beginners, is one of the most fun, albeit overused, aspects of poker. Everyone loves to do it. Winning a big pot through an even bigger bluff can be one of the most exciting and rewarding feelings in the game. Like dodging a bullet, bluffing takes plenty of luck, a lot of skill, and even more guts. Bluffing can feed a player’s ego, as well as their bankroll. But when used incorrectly, it can be extremely detrimental to a player’s overall success.

In Moderation

Yes, we know bluffing is fun. The feeling of stealing a huge pot with a big bluff simply cannot be matched in the poker world. A huge mistake, though, often made by beginning players, is bluffing to much. Do so in moderation, or you’ll never be successful.

Most good poker players are going to peg you as one of four main player types - tight-passive, tight-aggressive, loose-passive, and loose-aggressive. By bluffing excessively, you are showing the characteristics of a loose-aggressive player - a type of player you simply do not want to be. Your opponents around the table will notice your constant betting with bad cards, and they’ll start to call your bets, maybe even r-raising you a time or two. If you’re looking to bluff and steal some chips, you don’t want other players calling you. You want them to fold. By over-bluffing, you’re earning yourself a reputation around the table of a player who will just throw their chips into the pot and wait for everyone else to fold. That is publicity you just don’t want to have. Once your opponents know how you play, they’ll know how to beat you.

Avoid Tells

Tells will give your bluff away in a heartbeat.

When bluffing, you can’t give off the impression that you’re bluffing, nor can you try too hard to give off the impression that you’re not bluffing. Both will give you away. When bluffing, avoid glancing at other players and watching their movements. This is a surefire sign that you’re waiting for the to fold, and your opponents are going to be watching for this more than anything else. If you tend to bluff a lot in your game, I’d advise you to consider wearing sunglasses or hats. They’re great at keeping other players from watching your eyes or face too closely and zeroing in when you slip up.

Know Your Opponents

Bluffing surely isn’t going to work if you’re playing a bunch of loose - aggressive players - they’re going to call whatever you throw at them. If you ever wish to be successful at the art of bluffing, you need to take into account the types of players you’re playing.

Bluffing almost never works when you’re playing a bunch of rookies. Why? Beginner almost never fold. I’ve played some games with guys who would call all the way to the river with nothing more than a high card on the board. Obviously, bluffing isn’t going to work against that kind of player.

On the other hand, if you’re playing a lot of tight - passive guys, you’ll probably have a lot better luck with bluffing. They tend to be a lot more conservative with their hands and will fold right away if they don’t have anything.

Watch your opposition closely. Know their styles, and revolve your game around them.

« More poker guides or show all guides Page last updated: 22 May 2009

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