The art of bluffing
As you probably know my playing style is mostly tight-aggressive, even though I try to vary my play in order mot to get too predictable. One of the most important tools a player has if he wants to keep his opponents guessing is bluffing. If you don’t bluff you will have a hard time beating anything above nickel and dime games in either limit or no-limit holdem.
Players that don’t bluff will hardly ever get paid for their strong hands, easily be pushed out of pots when they have marginal holdings and fail to make the most out of many potentially profitable situations. But bluffing to much can be disastrous.
When to bluff
So when should you bluff and when should you avoid it? – As always – it depends. Bluffing is all about timing.
If you, like me play pretty tight you will have great opportunities to make successful bluffs. Your opponents will show you more respect, than a player that are in there hammering at every pot. But even I have to choose my spots with care. To make successful bluffs you have to know your opponents.
The naked check-raise
Let me give you an example. Some players will bet every time it is checked to them – as long as the board is not super scary. I try to check-raise these players no matter what I am holding, whenever I get the chance. This is a good move for several reasons. Because they usually don’t have anything, they will mostly fold, making my bluff successful.
After a while they will also be more reluctant to bet when I check, which occasionally gives me free cards. This naked bluff is one of my favorites, because if I get any action, I have an automatic fold. (To avoid becoming too predictable I occasionally check-raise in the same situation with strong holdings. You should always keep your opponents guessing.)
Know your opponents
This was only one example of a good spot to bluff. The important thing when it comes to successful bluffs, is knowing your opponents. Are they tight, over aggressive, will they lay down a pair with a weak kicker when facing a re-raise etc. When you manage to answer these questions with some accuracy, your chances of making successful bluffs will increase.
Good luck at the tables,
Read more about check-raising and other special moves.