Advanced Poker Bluffing

Bluffing is always risky in poker, but even if all the cards are dealt and your hand is hopeless, it can pay to bluff. In the best case scenario, this may win you the pot by causing other players to fold. Alternatively, you’ll be called and lose the price of a bet. But if only one bluff out of several succeeds, you may win a pot worth far more than the individual amounts you lost by bluffing and being caught out.

Poker Bluffing Guidelines

Advanced poker bluffing – meaning bluffing that’s likely to succeed more often than it fails – requires

  • not bluffing too often, so that other players spot the trend and call every bet you make
  • avoiding bluffing except when you’re up against only one, or at most two, opponents – a call is much more likely if there are still several players in the round
  • bluffing more often when you have a reasonable chance of a good draw, meaning that you can win either because your opponents fold or because you draw a card that gives you the winning hand in a showdown
  • bluffing when you can imply you have a specific hand, like a straight or a flush
  • avoiding bluffing either professional poker players (who are more likely to spot your bluffs) or very weak players, who tend to call often and won’t necessarily understand what your bets are meant to imply
  • bluffing if all other players checked on the previous round (especially on an expensive betting round), which implies that nobody is holding an exceptionally strong hand

Poker Bluffing Strategy

A general rule of advanced poker bluffing is not to bluff when you’re facing more than one opponent. However, if all the cards have been dealt, you’re facing two opponents, and you think the second of these opponents may have missed a draw, it can be worth bluffing. In that case, the middle player has to worry about your hand and the hand of the final opponent (whose hand you suspect is weak) – making it more likely that the player will fold.

Bluffing may succeed better from an early position at the table – it gives other players the impression that you’re ready to wager on the strength of your hand even without clues about what other players are holding.

In advanced poker bluffing, it’s also worth remembering that once the size of the pot has grown, other players are far more likely to call your bets. If often pays to bluff on earlier rounds.

See spotting poker tells for some tips on what can give bluffs away.