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Bluffing in Hold'em Poker

Successful Bluffing in Hold'em Poker
by Hank Cashman of

A few months ago I wrote some articles about a friend of mine, we just call him ďBlufferĒ. His table image is that he bluffs and wins all of the time. It is not completely correct but it has been profitable for him.

We recently got into a conversation about bluffing. Many new or inexperienced players think that it is a big part of poker. They are wrong. Many think that it's simply throwing chips in with a bad hand and pushing others off their hand. That isnít right either.

We had some fun trying to analyze the bluff. We found out that even though it seems easy it is really a very complex part of your play. You have to be aware of your position, chip stack, table image and the others players.


We started out with trying to figure out why we may bluff with one hand and not with another. It got very complicated from there. In analyzing the bluff we found that we had to consider the entire game.

In making a successful bluff you have to consider everything on the table. Position is very crucial. As in most of poker, your position has to be utmost in your mind. If you are in early position with four players behind you, it isnít a good time to try bluffing. If you are last to act and everyone checks, a little bet might be enough to buy the pot.

Size of the table is important. If you are a novice bluffer donít try to bluff a full table. It is easier to bluff one opponent than four or five. Just look at the odds. You are more likely to be able to make one person think they are beat than you are five.

Chip stacks need to be evaluated. If you try to out play someone with four times your chips they may think it is worth the call. By the same token, if you are the four to one leader fewer players will challenge you if they think they may lose all of their chips. You should always know where you stand on chip counts. It is tough to get a caller if he thinks he has to go all-in and might be wrong.

Table images can be crucial, yours and theirs. Pick your battles. Make sure you arenít trying to bluff someone that will call you. If you know the player is playing tight and scared, they are your best opponent. If they are loose and willing to call anything, they might just out play you. Make sure you are going into a battle that you can win.

As for your image, be ready to be called if you are known as a bluffer. Once that image is out there more players will try to bust you. Donít over use the play when your cover is blown. You have to be more cautious when they expect the bluff.

Normally, I do not recommend showing hold cards that were not called. I donít think you should give out any information that you donít have to. But, this is the exception. You should sometimes show the bluff. It helps send your opponent on tilt and will get them to call you when your have a good hand. Only show the bluffs. Donít show a monster unless you are forced. This helps perpetuate the image.

Work on your skills. Bluffing is one of them but only one of many. Donít let getting caught bother you. Just learn from it.

Keep the cards and chips flying.

Slow Playing in No Limit Holdem

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