There’s an element of luck to poker. You’ve got to work with the hand you’re dealt and make the most of it. However, poker is much more than pure luck. There’s a reason why world championships are consistently won by the same few players. There is a hierarchy of skill involved in a good game of poker. It involves impeccable maths skills to calculate potential wins. You’ll also need to analyse your odds against others. It involves great perception skills to read the table and get a sense of your opponents. Then there is one notorious skill that is fabled above all others in poker lore. That’s the ability to bluff.
Bluffing in poker is the art of misleading the other players. It’s the skill to make them believe your hand is better or worse than it really is. It can lead to huge victories from a poor hand. It is not a skill that is easily taught and you’ll have to develop your own techniques. Here are a few guidelines and ideas to get you started.
Know your opponents
First of all, you need to get a strong sense of your opponents. Don’t make any rash movements in the first few hands, just learn the style of your players. This is especially true if you’re a new player. What is their strategy on the flop? Are they quick to bet, or quick to check? How are they reading the table and how are their personal reactions giving them away? More importantly, before you start bluffing, watch the last few hands and watch how they play. Are they quick to throw chips in, or are they likely to call you on your bluff?
Your playing style
In order to execute your bluff perfectly, it needs to be believable from the start. If you’re a calm and considered player throughout the game, it’s easier to pull off. If you’re unpredictable and erratic, players are less likely to fall into your bluff.
Follow the hand so far and read the flop
There are one or two things that always give away a bluff. The biggest is a huge raise on the turn or the river. It suggests that you’re getting desperate and holding onto a poor hand. A big raise here suggests you’re trying to scare others away. To execute a great bluff, you need to raise carefully and play sensibly throughout the hand.
Read the table
The key to an effective bluff is reading the table. After a while, you should be able to spot the tell tale signs of trouble in other players. The following tip is straight from a poker strategy book: if players are constantly checking, it’s a sign of a weak hand. This is a simple tell that you can take advantage of. This is where you can bluff them out of the game.
There’s nothing worse than getting caught out in a bluff. It will give away your secrets and reveal your weaknesses. That’s why it’s always good to bluff when you have a half decent hand to play. If you do get caught out, it shouldn’t be too obvious that you were bluffing for something better.
A good, strong bluff is one vital tactic in your poker game. Don’t rely on it too much, and use it wisely. Make it a strong part of your game. Good luck!