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Bluffing in Online Poker: How and When You Should Do It

Bluffing in Online Poker: How and When You Should Do It article feature image
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Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images

Bluffing is a common tactic every player utilizes at some point while playing poker. In online poker, it’s utilized even more frequently because opposing players don’t have your face to read or body language to study.

Bluffing opponents in poker, both online and in-person, is considered an art. You will feel more satisfied when you pull off the deceit, take the pot and leave the other players questioning their decision-making. When it comes to bluffing, there are both mental and statistical components, including the blocking properties of your hand and more.

But when bluffing backfires, it can put a dent in your stack. This can leave you scrambling to make up for your losses which is a position all poker players want to avoid.

The question is, when should you try to bluff your way through a hand to steal a win? Our team at Action Network has come up with five tips to help you make money in online poker through the art of bluffing. How and when should you bluff? Read on to find out.

Bluff When the Field is Diminished

The first thing you should do before attempting to bluff is assess who you’re competing against. Regardless of if you’re trying to bluff one player off their hand or multiple, how has the hand or game as a whole been played so far? Have you found yourself playing with passive players who fold at the slightest hint of trouble, or have most of them taken a riskier approach with their hands?

Generally, it’s easier to win while bluffing the fewer opponents there are. Try to dwindle the field to one or two players before ramping up your actions during a hand as you lay the groundwork for a successful bluff. The fewer people there are, the less likely it is that you’ll be called out for your middling hand.

READ MORE: Online Poker Tips

Keep Your Table Image in Mind

Even though it’s imperative to study the field before trying to bluff, you should also be mindful of something else — yourself! How have you played through the game so far? Assessing your play is just as critical as analyzing what your opponents are doing. Best believe your opponents have been watching what you’ve been doing.

If you’ve generally folded on weaker hands but played strong ones, the other players will pick up on that. That’s why it’s so crucial to mix up your tells to keep your opponents off-balance. If they know what you’re planning to do before you do it, then bluffs aren’t going to be successful very often.

Stay Steady as You Progress Through a Hand

Playing cool and collected through a hand is essential to any successful bluff. You can’t pull off a bluff if you check the flop and the turn only to then randomly put in a lot of money on the river. That’s going to cause some lifted eyebrows and pity chuckles on the other side of that computer or phone screen. Pick a strategy on how you’re planning to play the hand and stick to it.

Additionally, the quickest way to lose a bunch of your chips is to attach yourself to a bluff that you know will get you nowhere. When it’s time for the river and you don’t get the sense that your opponent is biting, it’s probably wise to give up your bluff. You can try again at a more opportune time.

READ MORE: Top 10 poker mistakes to avoid

The Most Effective Tool in Online Poker — the Semi-Bluff

In online poker, using the semi-bluff is the most effective bluffing strategy. A semi-bluff is when you know for certain that you do not have the winning hand, but there is a reasonable chance it could turn into it by the river. The semi-bluff can help you dwindle the field of the weaker players and leave you with a puncher’s chance of knocking off the stronger hands by the end.

As we’ve mentioned before, you’ll see a lot more bluffing in online poker games than in person because there are no physical tells to make, so it encourages more erratic and high-risk bets. Thus, the semi-bluff is your best chance at taking the pot because while you might not have the winning hand at the moment, you’ll stand a much better chance at emerging victorious with it than you would if you tried to pull off a bluff with a poor hand.

If You’ve Pulled off a Bluff, Don’t Be Afraid to Show it

Part of building your table image is showing off your wins when you have them. That includes displaying the hands you bluffed your way to bragging rights with! Just as you probably want to see every winning hand your opponents have throughout a game, the players you’re competing against will want to see what you had to earn the pot.

Every hand is part of the larger story of the table. Each player has their own identity they have carefully or recklessly created. Every successful bluff is another addition to your story, and your opponents will remember them.

More Information

If you’d like to learn more about online poker, specifically the most reputable online companies to play with, check out The Best Real Money Online Casinos in the U.S.

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