One of the reasons for why people pick up the cards and start playing poker is that they got convinced by TV advertisements.
The idea of bluffing opponents and making memorable plays is alluring, but truth be told, these actions represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Bluff shouldn’t be abused and only used on those occasions when you have an excellent chance of pulling them through, while sticking to tight aggressive poker.
What makes bluffs special is that you can win a hand without having strong cards and sometimes take down huge pots by simply outplaying your opponent.
Poker is played at a mental level and even though mathematics mean a great deal, in the long run you need to make the most of your bluffs to stay profitable.
How and when to bluff
The principle of bluffing states that players try to induce the idea of strength and intimidate opponents, so that the latter succumb under pressure.
The best case scenario is to have opponents fold their better hand, so you win the pot without revealing your cards. Sometimes it pays off to show your bluff, to create a certain table image but generally it is better to keep your cards concealed.
Bluffs have a psychological effect, because they bolster the confidence of those who employ them, while eroding the self-assurance of opponents. Used too often, they risk backfiring badly as players dig themselves into a hole, in an attempt of showcasing excessive strength. Bluffs are both psychological and rational, with these two components going hand-in-hand and they apply to all versions of poker.
A distinction needs to be made between the semi-bluff and the total bluff, with the former relying on a decent hand that has the potential of improving even further. By comparison, when trying to pull off a successful total bluff, you know right from the start that the only way of winning the pot is if the opponents lay down their cards.
Slow playing hands is sometimes included in the category of bluffing, with the difference residing in the fact that players showcase weakness to disguise strong hands.
Practice makes perfect and being successful in bluffing requires a lot of training, with experienced players being more likely to succeed.
Other issues, such as the table image and position should also be factored in, because they make a significant impact on your chances to successfully bluff opponents.