Bluffing is an essential part of playing winning poker. The rationale behind bluffing is to make your opponent believe that you have a better hand when you possess a weaker hand and that you have a weaker hand when you are actually holding a solid hand.
"Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near." - Sun Tzu
Factors to consider before attempting a bluff
Number of Opponents remaining in the hand
- It is easier to fool a few than many. Try to bluff just 1 or 2 players at any one time.
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- If you have been playing tight, it is easier to pull off a bluff since your opponents will be more likely to think that you actually do have a hand.
Type of Opponents
- It is very difficult to bluff loose/aggressive players since they are 'maniacs'.
- Weak players are also difficult to bluff simply because they generally don't play how we expect them to play.
- Bluffing is usually more effective against tight players who like to err on the side of caution.
Cards on the table
- When the flop contains an ace or some other high cards, it is usually not a good time to bluff. This is because many players enter the hand with starting hands containing aces or some other high cards.
Size of pot
- Be mindful of the size of the pot when attempting a bluff. Some players may call your bluff simply because of favorable pot odds. You should try to raise them out if you still intend to bluff in such a situation.
- It is easier to bluff from a late position as you have more information on your opponents' hands.
Things not to do when bluffing
- Don't bluff too often.
- Don't get caught bluffing too many times.
Bluffing all of the time
Like many other poker strategy books and websites, I agree that you should not bluff too many hands. However, that does not mean that you only need to bluff some of the times. The fact is, you should be bluffing ALL of the time.
"All warfare is based on deception" - Sun Tzu
What I mean is that you should be constantly bluffing about your playing style, so that your opponent have a wrong assessment of how you play your hand. Appear loose when playing tight. Leave false poker tells like perhaps reaching for a drink whenever you have a bad hand.