The Art of Bluffing in No Limit Texas Hold Em: How to bluff in Holdem Poker Tournaments
The mechanics of the bluff and when to make a bluff are one thing, but there are a number of other considerations to be taken into account before putting the chips in the pot with 7,2 off suit.
No Limit Texas Hold Em – Position
Poker is a game of imperfect information. The earlier a player is positioned in the hand, i.e. how far left of the big blind, the less information is available and the more dangerous a bluff is.
Put simply, if a player is in first position, (Under the gun), there are usually 8 or 9 players still to act. This increases the odds of at least one player having a strong hand and means a bluff in this position has a very low likelihood of success.
A player making a bluff, especially an inexperienced one, should only bluff in late position such as on the button.
No Limit Texas Hold Em – Quality of Opposition
Before bluffing, the player should evaluate the other players on the table. Are they passive or aggressive? Are they calling stations or can they be pushed around? It’s a truism in poker that a bad player can’t be bluffed, so don’t bother.
If a player is likely to call with the slightest holding, only go after them with good hands. If, on the other hand, they prove to be passive and fold all but the best hands, bully them off the pot. These players are a bluffers dream. If, however, they call, they probably have the goods, so the bluffer needs to fold.
No Limit Texas Hold Em – Table Image
It is essential for a poker player to be able to change the way they play. A player gains an image at a table from the type of poker that they play. A clever player can use this to his advantage by projecting an image early in a tournament to catch opponents off guard in the later stages.
If a player is looking to bluff later on in a tournament, gaining an image of being a tight player who only bets with the nuts is important. Similarly, making a lot of bluffs early in the tournament when they are relatively cheap will earn a player the reputation of being a maniac.
As the tournament progresses and the blinds increase, a bluff made by the, ‘Tight’, player will be more respected, whereas a, ‘Loose’, player making a bet with a big hand, will attract more callers.
No Limit Texas Holdem – Chip Stack
When considering whether or not to make a bluff, the level of the opponents chip stack is critical. If they have a big stack, then there is a chance that they can bully the bluffer off the pot by making a re-raise which they can afford due to the number of chips in their possession.
Alternatively, If the bluffer is trying to push a short stacked player out of a hand, there is a strong chance that the opponent will be forced to push all-in as folding would cripple them anyway.
Bluffs should be made against middling stacks, especially towards, ‘The bubble’, of a tournament, where players are playing tightly to try and survive to the payout positions.
No Limit Texas Hold Em – Telling the Story
One of the biggest errors that can be made when bluffing is for the bluff not to make sense. If the story doesn’t add up, the person being bluffed may smell a rat and make a call or re-raise, forcing the bluffer to lay the hand down and pass over a number of chips
For a bluff to be successful, it needs to tell a story, e.g. two of a suit hitting on the flop and a third on the river to make a potential flush, or a raise pre-flop and a continuation bet when an A comes on the flop, representing that the bluffer was betting pre-flop with A,K or similar and then following through when the ace hit.
When a player makes a bluff, it should never be random, the bluffer should know precisely what the opponent needs to be thinking to make the laydown and structure the bluff to put that picture in the other player’s mind.