Bluffing At Poker
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Bluffing is a unique skill in poker and is a central element to the game. Bluffing skills make the difference between success and failure, but should be used wisely and with great care in tandem with all of the other great poker skills. This skill is one where you very much need to consider your opponents own skill levels, and their playing styles - poor players can often call in the wrong situations and this can make your bluff worthless - but against experienced players the bluff can be used to good effect and encourage them to fold a better hand.
In a limit poker game, it is normally best to bluff early in the hand (at the flop) - as once a good player starts calling with big bets, he's unlikely to fold a hand unless he misses his draw.
You should bet as if you had the hand you're representing when bluffing. For example, if you normally bet heavily when you have the nut hand, you should do the same if you don't have it but the board suggests you might. This is known as maintaining your table image. Unless you consistently mix up your styles of play, your opponents are likely to know how you normally play and your bluffs may lose some of their effectiveness.
Don't bluff against more than two other players, the odds are much greater that at least one has a better hand and may go for the call to keep in the hand.
Here are some examples of the different types of bluffs you're likely to see or try yourself during a poker game:
Betting or raising when you have nothing
Probably the most well known type of bluff - pretending and betting as if you have a good hand when you don't.
Betting or raising early in a hand to try and get an improved hand
Early bets may have the effect of causing your opponents to fear your hand, and subsequently folding or betting in a cautious way. They may lower their bets or allow you to see a free card. The Semi-bluff is similar, you're hoping to get a better hand on the flop.
Additional Resources On Bluffing.
The Wikipedia article on bluffing goes into detail, covering the different types of bluff you'll either encounter or try yourself.