Bluffing Your Online Poker Opponents

Playing Poker with Guts – Bluffing Part 1

To bluff is to try to convince your fellow players that you have the Nuts (or at least a fantastic and probably unbeatable hand) when really the cards you’re holding are garbage. The objective of bluffing is almost always the same – to get the other player to fold. (There is an exception, elucidated further below).

Bluffing successfully requires a great deal of calm, poise, cunning, and acting ability. It is an inextricable part of the game of poker, a necessary skill without which you’ll never earn or amount to much in the game. Without bluffing, poker really would be solely about the cards and you could
therefore play every hand open (with your hole cards showing).

Bluffing Online requires a craftier use of a much smaller set of tools than poker players in live, land-based settings have at their disposal for bluffing. For example, online your opponent cannot see you Carey Grant-esque poker face. Online your bluffs will come mostly in the form of your bets. Therefore, an online bluff cannot be a half-hearted bluff. An online bluff has to be large enough to look like it would hurt badly to lose. In fact, the gutsiest online bluff is going All-In. Just be sure you use it wisely – because (rebuy tourneys notwithstanding) you only get one chance to be wrong about that.

The Exception:
To Slow-Play is to try and trick your opponent into thinking you have a weak hand and are playing it poorly, making you ripe for the taking. Essentially you’re playing weak in order to get your opponent to throw more chips into the pot in the hopes of wrangling more of yours away from you before they supposedly move in for the kill. Little do they know, however, that you’re holding the Nuts – the prime time to Slow Play – and will be the one dining on a pound of their flesh this time around.

A form of slow playing is the Check Raise, when you Check the right to bet first in a round to entice your opponents to detect weakness in you and therefore bet just enough, they expect, to get you to fold out the pot. Often this is done in the first round of betting as a method to “steal the blinds”. However, when the bet comes back around to you, you don’t fold – as they had hoped for – and you don’t merely call their bet – but you raise it. Now your opponent is on to you. They know what you’re up to, and all they have to decide is if you’re Check-Raising them because you truly have a killer hand or if your Check-Raise is itself an elaborate bluff.

Bluffing is a great strategy to use at online poker rooms as the physical aspect of bluffing is eliminated. Check back in the next few days to learn more about bluffing in part 2 of our Bluffing series.