The art of bluffing is as old as the game of poker itself and has been used to excellent effect in some of the most high-profile online poker tournaments, right down to casual cash games between friends. Almost everyone aware of the game who isn’t a regular player has a perception that poker is simply a game of bluffing and that the guy who bluffs the best will always win. This perception is fuelled by the use of the term “poker face” in many non-poker contexts such as politics, business, and sport. That’s why any prospective poker player needs to understand that the art of bluffing, while an important weapon in the armory of a good player, most certainly is not the only strategy employed by good players.
Online poker tournament strategy is a complex series of educated guesses when it comes to bluffing because you’re reading the player’s hand history a lot of the time instead of getting a read on them at the table. This is why a lot of online specialists thrive on being unpredictable and mixing in bluffs with some more conservative bets on stronger hands. It’s an excellent way to throw any would-be callers off the scent and ensures that there’s always a slight sense of doubt around your intentions. Online poker tables offer something of a haven for lovers of a bit of tomfoolery, especially in sit-and-go games where you can scare people off their hands relatively easily.
Why is bluffing such a big part of poker?
Believe it or not, many players dislike the concept of bluffing and rarely indulge in a bluff during games. The simple, very understandable reason for this is that they believe it to be a very high-risk move that often results in chip losses. This may be true, but never forget that when you play poker online, and particularly in live poker, the selective use of this strategy ensures that your opponents always remain on the back foot and are never confidently able to read your play.
The less predictable you are, the more complicated life is for your opponents, and therefore your chances of emerging as the victor carrying home the cash are that much greater. However, the further up the tree you go, the more nuanced your bluffing will have to become, as the heavy hitters tend to have almost a sixth sense when it comes to sensing bluffs, particularly on the best online poker sites.
Creating your alter ego
In order to maximize your bluffing capabilities, it’s essential to create a table image that you can sustain over the entire game. Some people like to laugh and talk and represent loud, brash confidence, while others prefer the brooding deadpan approach, and some even attempt to be somewhere between these two poles. What remains critically important to your success at the table is that you are in your daily life as close to the persona you choose to represent during poker games online.
This will ensure that you will be able to remain as consistent as possible in your behavior when you are in any of the high-pressure moments which so often occur. Your fellow players will ruthlessly expose any cracks in your armor. It’s generally accepted that the image of the cool, calm, composed, and tight player is the best one to project, as this demeanor is most at odds with that of a bluffer. When successfully pulled off, this will make your bluffing most difficult to read and thus make it almost impossible for your fellow players to confidently predict what cards you’re holding. Don’t try to squeeze in all the poker tournament tips you’ve learned into one session. The best way to try them out is to wait for moments where they feel most organic so you can familiarize yourself with the game state and reactions of your peers at the table.
Knowing when to bluff
A vital element of the art of bluffing is that it should be done sparingly and only when the right set of circumstances present themselves. Random and reckless bluffs without due consideration during games of online poker in the USA can be very expensive and almost always lead to your stack taking a hit. To start with, it is prudent to aim your bluffs at the players with the shorter stacks, as they would obviously have more to lose than the bigger stack players and would be less likely to risk a crushing hand. Another significant fact to consider is that bluffing against multiple players brings additional risk to you and should be avoided if at all possible. When you play poker online, you need to be super vigilant about how players are reacting to your bluffs so that you’re always one step ahead of them in terms of when to lay down and when to re-raise.
Of course, the bluffer has allies in the cards themselves. The presence of a scare card arriving on the turn can be a powerful weapon for the bluffer and could be risked given the right circumstances. Another key part of the bluffer’s arsenal is to ensure that the bluffed wagers are pretty much in line with the size of your average bet. It’s a heavily underrated online poker tournament strategy and one you should be constantly aware of if you’re to become an expert bluffer. A sudden significant increase to your bet will alert the better players that you’re up to something, and, in all probability, you’ll get called. Finally, remember that you may lose many of the hands you bluff, but by applying this strategy with a cool head, you can enjoy many successful visits to the poker tables.
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