During a recent poker game, I took a pretty large pot with a 7 of hearts and 2 of clubs. A novice player, who was watching the action, asked me a frequently asked question in poker. He wanted to know “when is it a good time to bluff?” I gave him a couple of tips and after thanking me and patting me on the back for taking that hefty pot with just a 7 and 2 off suit, he left.
I thought about his question and decided that although bluffing has been a topic in many “How To Play Poker” books and I had written about it and talked about it many times, I would revisit the topic once again.
Best times to bluff:
- Bluff if you only have one other player still at the table.
- Hit it hard if the board cards or the cards you have showing allow you to represent a winning hand.
- When your image at the table is that you are a very strong player.
- If you are in late position and no one has represented any kind of strong hand.
- If you can read your opponents and you really believe that they will fold to your bet or raise.
But you have to tread carefully through the bluffing canyons or you could slip and fall pretty heavily. You really need to try to read your opponents and especially pick up on how they played any of their winning hands.
There are very definite times when you should not bluff:
Worst times to bluff:
- If you know of any player still in the hand who will always call even when he has nothing. When you meet a player like this it’s best to let him or her shoot themselves in the foot!
- If one of the players has raked in a huge pile of poker chips and he can easily cover your bet or raise without much damage to him. Stay away; play it safe!
- If there are still a lot of players at the table. Don’t do it!