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The Key To Pulling Off Poker Bluffs

Mar 26, 2008
Poker is a game that combines mathematical skill, luck and deception. Learning how to bluff is an integral part of any poker players game. Below we have put together advice on bluffing, slow playing and tips for pulling off the semi-bluff.

Bluffing is really only an option in Texas Hold'em no limit games because in a no limit game your entire stack of chips is at risk in each hand and this makes the bluff an effective weapon. In limit games the risk is minimal as you cannot lose everything in one hand, so bluffing loses much of it's potency.

The key to bluffing is making the bluff believable and choosing the correct players to target with the deception. A bluff will be hard to pull off when you're playing a game with a maniac who 's calling and raising every hand. These types of players are likely to call any bet and that's exactly what you don't want to happen. Try bluffing the tight players at the table, these players are the ones who only play top hands.

If you are one of the last players to act at the table then this is a good time to bluff, as you will get the chance to see what other players do before you have to act. It is not advisable to try and bluff more than one or two players at the same time because if there are 3 or more players in a hand it will be more likely that one of them is holding cards which are good enough to call you with.

Remember the size of your bet is key to pulling off the deception. If the bet is too big you will telegraph your bluff since a strong hand wants to be called, bet too small and you'll make it too easy for an opponent to call.

It's a great feeling when you successfully pull off a big bluff but don't fall into the trap of trying to bluff too often, save your bluffs for when they are most advantageous.

The Semi-Bluff
The normal situation for employing a bluff is when you're holding cards that have no realistic chance of winning the hand. So you bet in the hope of forcing other players to fold and you can collect the pot without revealing your weak cards.

A semi-bluff is slightly different than a normal bluff. The difference between a semi-bluff and a normal bluff is the strength of the cards you are holding. Typically in an out and out bluff you will be holding cards like 7 / 2 off suit, but the semi-bluff may see you holding a hand like 8 / 9 suited. Now 8 / 9 suited isn't a great starting hand but it does offer you a number of good outs. Even if your bluff is called you could still hit a straight draw or a flush draw.

When holding a hand like 8 / 9 suited you might hit a flop which gives you another two suited cards and leaves you one card anyway from make your flush draw, this is the perfect time for a bluff. You still don't have a hand, but a big bet could see you taking the pot before the turn. If the worst happens and you get called you still have two table cards to try and pick up the last suited card to complete your flush.

The Slow Play
When you bluff you are trying to make other players believe you have a stronger hand than you really do and when you Slow Play you are doing the exact opposite. By slow playing you are trying to convince other players that your hand is weaker than it really is. By doing this you hope other players will bet into the pot more than they would if you came out raising with a big bet which may scare them off.

Slow playing should only be used when you have an unbeatable hand like a full house or the highest flush or straight. When you hold an unbeatable hand after the flop you don't want to scare anyone out of the action. You should wait until the turn and river card before sticking in the big bets. Allow the other players to become committed into a showdown.
About the Author
Paul Edison invites you to check out his tips at Poker legend.
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