Bluffing is an essential skill in No Limit Texas Hold’em. And difficult. Do it too much and you lose tons of money. Do it too little and people will be able to read you very well (unless you play small stakes).
On this site there are specialized articles on the most important bluff situations:
Bluffing is a complex topic and very situation specific. But some general things to think about when you are considering making a bluff are:
- How many opponents do you have? The more opponents the less likely a bluff is to be successful. Let’s say each opponent is 50 % likely to see through a bluff you make with complete air and call. With one opponent you are 50 % likely to be called, with two 75 % likely to be called (1 – 0,5*0,5) and with 3 opponents you are 88 % likely to be called (1 – 0,5*0,5*0,5).
- How is your opponent(s) playing? Will they be capable enough to understand that the hands you are trying to represent are a significant part of your range? Or will they only look on their own cards and decide that a good pair is always good for calling?
- Tell a believable story. Don’t just throw out a bluff on the river without carefully considering how believable it is that you have what you are representing.
- In general when there comes a card that is a good fit to your likely hand range, but a bad fit to your opponent’s likely hand range you have at least one good condition for a bluff.
- Will your bluff make stronger hands fold? If it only makes weaker hands fold, should you really be making it? You might argue that it is the only way to win the pot with a weak hand against a super aggressive player who you know will most likely bet if you check – but under most circumstance it is better to wait until you have a hand and let him bet into you then.
- Prepare the ground for the bluffs. For example, it is much more likely that a flop bluff will succeed if you 3-bet preflop than if you cold called.
- In general you prefer to have some equity in the hand when you bluff, for example two overcards with a backdoor flush draw or a gutshot. This is called semi-bluffing, because you don’t expect to have the strongest hand right now, but it can improve to become the strongest hand. This adds more ways to win then an immediate fold.
- It is preferable to have position on your opponent(s). You get to see their actions first and they are more likely to fold when they are out of position.