Mastering the Technique of Poker Bluffing

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Poker Bluffing. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The legendary poker face has become synonymous with gambling professionals, with many arguing that the technique of poker bluffing is key to winning.   

Although poker bluffing carries some risk, it’s something that each professional poker player should know how to do. If you’re after the pot during a poker night with friends or are eyeballing that lucrative poker jackpot at a casino, it’s essential to know how to remain calm and control your emotions while using your bluffing skills to persuade other players to fold their cards.

It might seem tricky, but those who know the technique of poker bluffing have a broader set of options when dealt a weak hand.

Here are some poker bluffing tips that can help you stay on top of your next game:

Know Your Stakes

The first step in poker bluffing is understanding the stakes. Here are some tips:

  • If you’re participating in a tournament, avoid bluffing anyone with a short stack and those who would try to win by going all in. Also, avoid anyone with a deep stack who’s got enough money to call your bluff. The golden rule is to bluff someone with a medium stack who’s likely a conservative player.
  • Only bluff when the stakes are high, and you have a middle or higher stack.
  • Bluffing improves with practice. You need to perfect a nonchanging poker face, have an engaging personality, or maintain a constant attitude.
  • Avoid getting entangled in a showdown. A bluff is only successful when no one knows that you’ve done it. All your opponents would have already folded before the final bet, and you would win by default. If it looks like a face-off is on the horizon, use your backdoor escape and fold.

Read the Tells

Tells are a vital part of the analytical side of poker. Recognising the tells lets you know when others are bluffing and helps you avoid making unconscious tell-tale facial expressions of your own.

Listen when others say that they believe you’re bluffing – if you know your tells, you could use these to your advantage by bluffing when you have a great hand. Here are some key tells to watch out for:

  • Observe how a player puts their chips down. If it’s strong and at a distance, the player could be bluffing. If they are placed down gently and close to their body, it could indicate a good hand.
  • Observe body language – lip movements, eye twitches, flared nostrils, scratching, hand movements, and holding breath could indicate that a player is bluffing.
  • If an opponent appears to be strong, it’s possible they are bluffing. By trying to stare you out or faking a smile when a card hits, your opponent might be giving signs that their hand isn’t as good as they say.

Work On Your Poker Face

Sharp intellect and instinct must be combined with the ability to remain emotionless and reveal nothing other than casual involvement. You can do this by looking casually, carefully, and slowly at the corner of the two cards in your hand while keeping them face down. Your face must stay expressionless, and, if possible, wear sunglasses so that your eyes can remain unreadable too.

Never express approval or disapproval when playing face to face. One method of maintaining a poker face is to disguise your face or use props. Large hats and glasses work well with beards, hoodies, and scarves to hide the face and neck, which could give away tension, flushing, or a change in breathing patterns.

Create Stories

To be successful at bluffing, you need a consistent and ongoing story that’s told throughout the game. Developing a regular pattern is the best way to get others to overlook the possibility that you might be bluffing and give you the best chance of being successful in your bluff.

If you have a weak hand, always maintain your bluff. Call the other player’s cards, but never reveal your own, which you would discard. The other players might suspect bluffing but would have no way of knowing for sure. Like this, no one would be aware that bluffing is a tactic you might be using. This allows you to try it out again later in the game.