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Poker: Factors To Consider When Bluffing

Bluffing is a part of poker that is only successful against players with some skill level and above.  It’s an act of deception, having the intent of getting your opponent to fold.

Here are five factors to consider when deciding whether to bluff.  What’s your image at the table, your opponent image, position, the size of your bet and the betting history of the hand.

Your Image: Aggressive or Tight

Your table image is a major factor in whether your bluff is successful or not.  If you’re perceived as a tight player, where other players see you only playing quality hands (nit), your bet would more likely be believed as representing a strong hand.  This is where bluffing in most cases would more likely be successful.  On the flip side, if you’re perceived as an aggressive player who plays any two cards regardless of your position, your bluffs will in many cases fail.  So be mindful of how you are playing.

Opponent Image

There are different types of poker players and you need to identify which players you can bluff against.  Ideally, you want to face one opponent to bluff against.  Although there are situations when a bluff will work if you only have the courage to bet.  Basically, you are looking for players who have some skill and are mindful of their chip stack.

If you are playing against a player who always calls (calling stations) even with a very weak hand, a bluff would not work in most cases.  They have to see for themselves that you have the better hand and are not bluffing.  Understand, that it’s easier to bluff a good player than a bad player.

Position

The best position is normally last to act.  It’s usually best to see your opponents actions before you have to decide what to do.  But poker has been changing, sometimes players are bluffing from an early position. You will have to identify the type of players that are on your table.  If you are up against an opponent who knows that bluffing is more likely done from a late position, you may want to change it up by betting in an early or middle position.

Bet Size

You want to bet the least amount possible to get your opponent to fold.  But you ask, what is that amount?  As a rule of thumb, usually, a bet of 50% of the pot will generally be enough to get your opponent to fold.  Just know, that every situation is different.  You may have reason to suspect that your opponent is on a draw, then a pot size bet may be necessary to get your opponent to fold.  If your opponent is a tight player, a bet of 25% of the pot could be enough to have them fold.  Why would you want to risk more?  If your opponent reraises, you can lay down your bluff losing only 25% of the pot.

Betting History 

The betting history of the hand has to make some sense.  It’s a storyline that your bets are telling your opponents that have to be believable, to be successful.  Calling and check raising your opponent can also strengthen your bluff in the hand.

Here’s an example of your bluff, making the storyline believable.  Let’s say you’re In a tight game, your opponent in middle position has a deep stack, raised pre-flop to $20. You, also with a deep stack in the cutoff, called with AsJh.  You’re heads up and the flop is KsJd8s, your opponent now bets $30 and you called.  The turn is a 4s, your opponent checks and you check.  The river is the 7h, making the board KsJd8s4s7h.  Your opponent bets $75 then you raise to $200.  With a straight and flush possible on the board, you have now put pressure on your opponent.  If your opponent doesn’t have a very strong hand like Aces, Queens or Ace-King, the pressure that you apply may be enough for them to fold.