How to Improve Your Poker Bluffs
Poker is a game of strategy, and sometimes in that strategy comes the idea of being deceitful – otherwise known as bluffing. Bluffing is usually the key to winning your pot, but it can be hard to master.
Most strategies will suggest ways in which beginner players can gain a good hand, but luck won’t always be on your side and sometimes you’ve got to literally play with the hand God dealt you and bluff your way to a win. In many ways, poker is similar to the game of dominoes, perhaps a more ancient version of the sport.
Bluffing can become an important part of the game if you are betting only when you have a good hand, which will make it easier for opponents to guess when you don’t, or when you have an opponent who is bluffing aggressively. You can cause them to flop or add more to the pot if you offer them a lighter bluff. Read on to understand the ins and outs of bluffing in your poker game.
Mask your tells
A lot of poker comes down to reading others, and masking your own intentions – ultimately body language, or “tells”. Tells are the subconscious mannerisms that give away what a player is feeling about their hand. Being able to understand tells will allow you to gauge what a player’s hand is and will inform you on your next move.
Watching players’ hands clasped or fidgeting, indicating nerves, or open and waving around, indicating excitement, or at least a relaxed demeanor, will help you understand what your opponent is thinking and what route they are planning on taking to win.
However, this can work both ways. Your opponent can just as easily read you since we’re all mind readers in a sense. Our bodies all emit what we are feeling with our actions, so masking those actions will give your opponents less of an impression on what kind of hand you have.
Study yourself in the mirror or play a few rounds on live games like those which can be found on reputable platforms like ggpoker.co.uk, and record your games for training yourself to become a better bluffer. Look out for tells in your mannerisms and work on doing less of them as you play.
Steal your blinds
Stealing your blinds is the easiest way that you can use to start bluffing in poker. You don’t necessarily need a good hand with which to steal blinds; it is a popular assumption, so your hands will appear good to your opponents. You just need the right type of players in the blinds, and they can be tight or weak.
As an example, if the game is folded to you on the button, and you have a hand that ends up with an eight and five of hearts, or a king and four of spades, you should keep an eye on your players. Two tight players who don’t often fight back in the blinds, whether they’re big or small, should cause you to raise it up. Don’t fold. It’s a good way to win an easy pot regularly, adding value to your long-term poker winnings.
Bet light before the flop
You can also re-raise before the flop more often. If you are getting hands that aren’t getting you excited, re-raise against tight players and create a light 3-bet.
Aim to do it when the player you’re targeting is in late position, or in blind-vs-bind situations or when they raise around the button.
Bet the flop
Trust us. Trust the process. In Texas Hold’em, you can make a continuation bet without connecting to the flop. Most of the time your opponent isn’t likely to be holding anything of value since you can only flop a pair every three times.
So, if you find you’ve got a high ace on the flop, and it is checked to you, you can safely make the continuation bet bluff, knowing that the odds are that your opponent will just fold.
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