When to Bluff in Poker!

Nearly all poker players are aware of what a bluff is. A bluff is defined as the act of making a bet at the pot when you know that you have the worst hand in an attempt to make your opponent fold a better hand.

However, that being said, many weak players do not understand when they should be bluffing and why they are bluffing. The following article aims to answer the when and why question. Hopefully allowing you to pick better bluff spots and profit more from poker.

Bluffing Fish

The biggest weakness fish have is that they do not fold when they hit a piece of the board. If a fish flops a pair, chances are they are at least going to the river, and fairly often they are calling all of the way.

Against this type of opponent it is suicidal to bluff. The easiest way to beat the fish is to wait for a strong hand (Top pair good kicker is strong enough) and then value bet large on all streets. The fish will not fold and you will profit. In short, do not bluff the fish.

Scare Cards

The underlying theory behind scare cards is that the scare cards are better for the preflop raisers range than the preflop callers range. So for example, you raise preflop and the flop comes down J62. The turn brings a Queen, King or Ace and you decide to bet again as a bluff.

The reason why you bet this turn as a bluff is because it is inherently better for the preflop raisers range than the preflop callers range. Let’s examine why:

  • The preflop caller will fold hands that connect with this turn on the flop. For example, KQ, AQ.
  • The preflop caller has many middle pairs in his range.
  • As the preflop raiser you are perceived to have lots of broadway hands that have either turned top pair or a good draw. So when the ace turns, you can have AT, AJ, AQ, AK, maybe some suited aces like A2-A5 suited. Whereas your opponent cannot have these hands in his range often.

Perception Of Your Opponent

Is your opponent tight or loose? Is he scared or a fearless player? Is he a risk adverse standard grinder? Is he a crazy maniac who is unpredictable? All of these questions you should ask yourself and the answers should go a long way to telling you whether you should or should not bluff your opponent.

The best opponents to bluff are weak tight players who will frequently make calls on the flop and turn, but make big folds on the river. Identifying these players is fairly easy. Usually they will be playing lots of tables. Usually they will have high fold to turn and river c-bet stats. Often they will have a high w$sd percentage because when they finally do go to showdown they will have a great hand.

Your Opponents Perception Of You

What does your opponent think of your game? Does he think your a tight regular? Does he think you are a loose aggressive regular? Does your opponent even think anything about you at all? These are all important questions.

Having an inherently tight range gives you the benefit of having more bluffing credibility. If you play few hands, you will obviously have a stronger hand more often. Tight players often get a lot of credibility from their opponents, so if you think your opponent will give you lots of credibility for being strong, use it and bluff them off their hand.

Capped Ranges

Capped ranges are when your opponent takes a certain line and can never be strong because of it. So for example, let’s say your opponent checks back a 9c 7d 5c board. The turn brings the Kc.

Spots like this, the strongest hand your opponent can ever have is probably a hand like KQ or AK.

In spots like this, you can perceivably check raise the turn with impunity because your opponent can never be strong and you can always be strong.

Obviously in reality, your opponent may also realise this and make a call on the turn and river. This is where levelling comes in and you can decide whether your opponent will call twice or not. If you are playing a strong opponent, you can check raise the turn and bomb the river with every hand that beasts AK, as well as hands with some equity (Turned flush draws). Doing this, you will be incredibly hard to play back against.