How to Bluff in Texas Hold 'Em
Bluffing is a crucial part of any type of poker and is crucial to know how to bluff in Texas Hold 'Em. Bluffing will help you win pots even when you aren't getting dealt any big hands, and is a vital part of your poker arsenal. The key to knowing how to bluff in Texas Hold 'Em is recognizing when a bluff has a good chance of working.
Here are some tips for how to bluff in Texas Hold 'Em before the flop:
- From the button. If you are the dealer and everyone has folded to you then the only players left are the two blinds. There is a pretty good chance that they do not have good hands and if they do call they will be out of position after the flop, so bluffs here will often work.
- When there are several callers. Once one player decides to call this will often induce a lot of other players to call as well since the pot odds have improved. These players don't necessarily have very good hands, they're just hoping to hit something big on the flop. As such, they usually won't stand up to a big raise, so this can be a good time to bluff.
- The "squeeze" play. If one player raises and one or more players call this can be an ideal place to execute a "squeeze" play. If you sense that the player who made the initial raise is weak, then re-raising is an effective bluff. The other players (the ones that called) aren't much of a concern because if their hands were really strong they probably would have re-raised already.
Here are some tips for how to bluff in Texas Hold 'Em after the flop:
- When you raised before the flop. When you raise before the flop you are announcing that you have a good hand. If you continue to bet after the flop then you are furthering this image, which can be very effective. This type of bluff is called a "continuation bet" and is one of the most common bluffs in Texas Hold 'Em.
- When you have a good draw. This is known as a "semi-bluff" and is another very common bluff in Texas Hold 'Em. If you don't have a good hand, but have a draw to a very good hand (maybe you flopped a flush draw, for instance), then bluffing can be a very effective strategy. If your opponents fold, you win. If they call, you still have a good chance to hit your draw and win the pot anyway.
- When the other players seem weak. If you are last to act and the other players check to you then this can be a good time to bluff. Their checks indicate that they didn't hit anything. Of course, tricky players might be checking to disguise a big hand. Still, this bluff will work often enough to be worth trying as long as you don't do it too often.
There are also a few situations where you probably shouldn't bluff in Texas Hold 'Em:
- When the board is draw-heavy. If the flop comes 7-8-9 with two hearts, you probably shouldn't bluff. There is always a chance that someone has already hit that flop but, more importantly, there is a very good chance that someone missed the flop but has either a straight draw or a flush draw (or both). Those players will be likely to call, so a bluff probably won't work.
- When there is an ace on the board. Players, especially inexperienced players, tend to overvalue weak aces before the flop. As a result, the odds of someone having an ace is relatively high. So, if there is an ace on the flop there is a good chance that someone hit it, and probably won't fold to a bluff.
- If you've been winning a lot of pots. If you bluff too much, or even if you just hit a good run of cards and win with real hands, players will start to get skeptical. Eventually, your opponents will take a stand and your bluffs won't work.