Anyone who’s seen a poker game before probably witnessed some sort of bluffing. Whether it’s a professional game, online poker or some fun with friends, falling into traps is quite easy, even if you have been dealt a strong hand. In this guide, we encourage you to learn the art of bluffing if you want to play poker live or online. We take a look at strategies, basic and more advanced skills and their differences between real-life and online poker. To learn bluffing, you must learn about yourself first, understand reactions and body language, and of course, master a strong strategic game plan. Lets’ fold!
When mastering bluffing, one quickly realizes, that in order to play poker effectively becoming a student of human character is essential. Poker enthusiasts and professionals both refer to bluffing as an art form. In this guide, we break down why. When you learn the art of bluffing, it means so much more than creating a stone-cold poker face or to act like nothing around you is affecting your play. Apart from strategy and a developed skill set, poker is also playing mind games and misleading your opponents while having full control of your own behaviour. Sounds quite radical? Playing poker definitely requires a strong character. But such character can develop over time and practice, so let’s see how!
Learn the art of bluffing through professionals’ tips
It goes without saying, poker is not on the easy side of casino games. The rules are more complicated than in blackjack, for instance, your opponents can be tough, and there is always big money on the line. Therefore, it is essential to know your game, and know it well. Before we break down out top bluffing tips, we recommend you read our comprehensive guide on poker rules, from basics to pro tips. Once you understand the course of the game and how to handle your money when you play poker, bluffing can come into question. Bet365 Poker offers a great way to start practicing your kills online. But let’s ask ourselves what bluffing really is, and what are the different types?
A bluff in poker is when you make a bet or raise in an attempt to make your opponent(s) fold a better hand than you, helping award you the pot by default in the process. While players have the ability to make a bluff at any time during a game, the best players always bluff at the most opportune times – in other words, when they think their opponent(s) will fold the most often (Source: eMagazine). It is important to know when to bluff, and for that, you need a (learnable) bluffing skillset. In general, professionals talk about 4 main types of bluffing techniques, but of course, there are several other ones depending on the type of player and situation! It is therefore difficult totally categorize a poker game, nevertheless, check the linked categories to help you out!
Reasons to learn the art of bluffing
Even if you have a strong hand, poker strategy often also relies on storytelling. It is quite easy to be misled, but even if you think you can shut all influences out, your own behaviour can still easily give your cards away. Just like in real life, your character, how you present yourself and first expressions define others’ perceptions of you. Meaning, that if you want to take the big bucks home, you need to learn how to hide your own reactions first, or how to fake them convincingly. This applies to online poker too, if you are more comfortable playing in a home environment. When playing online poker in the UK, several sites, like Bet365 Poker are in your service.
Remember, that in poker, everyone is observing. Just like in real life, we take in verbal and non-verbal sign, however, the major difference is, that in poker everyone who plays is way more observant. There is a lot of intimidation in poker, which means you have to find your calmness first and trust your own body language and strategy. To do that, you need to learn and practice them. Most importantly, to become confident enough, trusting and knowing yourself when playing (all your reactions) are fundamental. To learn the art of bluffing, it is a good approach to accept this as part of the rules.
Professionals’ tips on how to bluff
Professionals always highlight the importance of body language and communication. Learning how to hide if you have a strong or weak hand is key, as well as to know what your opponents hold. Most effectively you can do this when you are late in the round. By this, you already had the time to gather all the information on the opponents’ bets and body language. In order to make an effective bet, it has to be value-added. Meaning, that your bet must be big enough to scare the other players. This leads to our important point; creating a narrative.
To create a powerful narrative, the best time to start bluffing is pre-flop. Selling a reality to the table, and showing your strength is important. You want to create the idea in everyone’s mind, that you hold a strong hand. Post-flop, you should continue the narrative but at this point, be very observant of the other players. When you read them, do they play tight or loose? Make sure that the bets are consistently big enough to intimidate. If you stick to your strategy, your narrative will become solid. On that know, remember that strategy and body language are always linked. Understanding body language is part of the process when you learn the art of bluffing. The pro tip is, to analyse your own facial expressions, eye-movement, voice and heart rate. If you understand how your own body works, understanding others will become easier – even if they hide it well.
What the eyes and lips can’t hide
Professionals often focus on the eyes. You have probably seen many poker players in sunglasses. The window to the soul can easily give away if your scared, excited or disappointed. Pay attention to where your opponents look, how often do they take quick glances, and what really caught their eye. Do they maintain eye contact or avoid that? How does it change pre and post-flop? Do they check their cards often or not? Such signs can mean various things, but they for sure contain information. Once you notice these and examine their play, you can link the behaviour to events in the game!
In poker, you don’t have to use your voice if you don’t want to, but it sure has a significance. Pay attention to how players’ voice change over the course of the game. Before that hands are dealt, everyone is more relaxed – do they sound different later on? If somebody is silent that whole time and decided to talk, that can also suggest a change in their game. The quality of the voice and the content give feelings away, that is called speech play. When our heart rate is up, the sign can be observed on how we use our hands too. Shaking, nervously folding hand and so on.
The art of bluffing live or online: important differences
In this recent article, we collected the rules of online poker when playing on online poker sites in the UK. In terms of bluffing and required skills, live and online poker is quite different. Firstly, it is important to choose the right stakes. The gap between edges and skillsets is smaller since you can’t see your opponents. You have less information to work with, so it is harder to make profitable decisions. Moreover, it is important that you trust the site or app you are playing on, and don’t hold or play more money that you are not comfortable risking. From one of the most popular sites in the UK, our recommendation is Bet365 Poker. Be aware, that on sites like this, the pace of the game is a lot faster. You don’t have as much time to think, so build up your strategy beforehand.
When playing online poker, the art of bluffing becomes more difficult, since you play with no real-life reads. Instead, you must rely on maths and a strong game theory. Intuition is not your base in this scenario, whereas knowing which hands are inherently profitable can help you out a lot. Learning charts for preflop play is highly recommended! With online poker, your pre-flop game has to be even stronger. Play fewer hands, and stick to a strong approach!