Definition of a bluff – When you are sure that your hand is not the best hand at the showdown, or when your hand has no value before the showdown, and you bet. This is a bluff.
When to bluff – If you think you will succeed in making the other players fold in a higher proportion of the situations than the odds the amount in the pot is offering you, you should bluff. For example, if there is $20 in the pot and your bet is $5, if you think that you can take the pot more than 20% of the times, you should bluff.
Try to get caught bluffing once in a while to vary your game and image, but on the other hand, don’t show off with your bluffs too much. It makes your opponents focus on how to beat you.
Important things to consider before bluffing:
1. Knowing your opponents is crucial – are they capable of folding, what their game style is, what your image is at the table, have any of your opponents been bluffed lately.
2. Reading hands and poker tells – If you can analyze the previous betting’s in this hand or if you saw something that makes you think your opponent is weak, go ahead and bluff. Check for signs of strong hands before and after the flop, and check for other psychological signs before you decide whether to bluff or not.
3 Look at the size of the pot – If the pot is big and your opponents are committed to it, your chances of success are small.
4. Look at the board – If the community cards are Jd, Td, and 9h against many opponents you shouldn’t bluff because chances are someone is holding a hand that is worth paying. On the other hand, if the board is Ks, 8d, and 2h it’s probably a good signal for a bluff.
5. Look at your opponent’s stack – If one of the opponents is short-stacked compared to the pot size, he will probably call your bluff. On the other hand, if you have a marginal hand (such as 8 & 7) and think that the short-stacked opponent is weaker than you, bluffing could be a smart move. If there are three players in the hand, a good player won’t call the bet because he knows that the short-stacked player will call your bet.
6. Your image – Sometimes, if you want to make it harder for your opponents to read your game later on, it’s a smart move to bluff even if the pot odds don’t justify it. On the other hand, it’s a smart move not to bluff even when the pot odds do justify it if you want to preserve your tight player image for later. Bluff only when the pot is big enough and, due to your tight image, you think no one will call.
7. How many opponents are still in the game – as the number of opponents rises, your chances of taking the pot decrease.