Online Poker: The Art Of Bluffing

It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 sit and go or a $50/$100 limit game. You have encountered the scenario numerous times.

After failing to cash in on numerous loose calls or a string of folds to the big bettor on your right who always plays garbage, you finally read the situation correctly and make a calculated bluff that pays off. Like a kid who gets a first kiss, you show off and give the table a glimpse of the unsuited 8 — 10 with which you cruised to victory.

For some players, hearing the ensuing compliment, “Nice bluff” is like the first dose of opium that becomes an addiction. There is always value in advertising a bluff.

However, when playing online, there seems to be an epidemic in displaying the winning rags. Before you do likewise, take account of your situation and don’t just show a bluff because you get a thrill from it.

Especially during online games, anonymity at the table is a prized commodity. Nobody can see your facial ticks, chip shuffling or seat squirming, so why provide a constant stream of information to your opponents? Sure it feels good to kick someone off a winning hand, but don’t fall into the trap of continually showing your cards. Repeatedly showing the goods not only makes you look foolish, it gives your opponents advantages they can use against you later. Intelligent players can pick up on and track your betting habits. If they see multiple bluffs, chances are the next bluff will be obvious. Show a bluff once or twice. That’s how to keep your opponents guessing.

Treat the show of the bluff like a piece of pecan pie. It’s a fabulous treat every so often, but you will get sick of it if you eat it for dinner on a nightly basis.

So next time you are involved in a cash game or a tournament, keep in mind key situations when to advertise your chicanery.

First, the best time is when you are new to a table. Play a few hands, get a lay of the land and then make a wise bluff and bring it to light. That lets the others know you have a good grasp of the game and they should stay away. This technique works even better if there are weak players at the table. Rest assured they will avoid showdowns with “Mr. Bluff.”

Another quality show of the bluff occurs when it is done in accordance with the amount of chips in front of the players in the hand with you. An opportune time to show a bluff is when you square off against a short stack in a tourney. Maybe the loss is enough to get him or her to go on tilt and give away the remaining chips in a follow-up hand. The same logic holds true for the big stacked player. He or she might think the next time you are involved in a hand it’s a bluff and that big collection of chips could be vulnerable with a trap.

Once you understand the epidemic of online cowboys showing off their bluffs, use their machismo against them. Engage the ones who like to bluff and show into a chat. Make it appear like you are impressed by them. This plays into their ego and will instigate even more shows, even more of a snapshot into the hands they are willing to play.

You will thank them later for the fine conversation and for the chips.