How to Bluff Effectively in a Poker Game

Two hole cards, face down in a game of poker, next to stacks of poker chips.

One of the best skills you can master to improve your odds of winning when you play poker online is the ability to bluff your opponents. In this blogpost, we’ll explore what bluffing is, why you should use it and share tips that you can use to outsmart your opponents in offline and online poker.

What exactly is a bluff?

In poker, a bluff can take two opposing forms. First, it’s making an opponent believe they have a better hand than you and luring them into a trap where you beat them and claim the pot. The second type of bluff is where you make an opponent believe you have a much stronger hand than they do, and they fold as a result.

Why use a bluff?

No matter which way you use a bluff, it’s simply a tool to improve your odds of winning (as is using math skills to improve your chance of success,) but do you need to master it if you’re already winning quite often anyway? While you may be able to beat some players with solid poker fundamentals, without the bluff in your poker-gaming arsenal, you risk becoming predictable and easy to read. Without some level of deception, skilled players will easily tell that you’re only playing a particular hand because it’s strong and that you’re likely to win. Bluffing forces other players to stay on their toes and keeps them guessing as to how strong your hand actually is. And then you can make them chip in to see it!

Tips for bluffing

To improve your online poker tournament strategy, or just boost your chances of a win in a quick casual game and become a more successful poker player, here are some ways you can deceive your opponents.

Bet big to steal the blinds against tight players

Tight players, or players who only bet if they have strong hands, can be easy to bluff pre-flop. Once you’ve identified that a player is conservative and will only bet when they have a strong hand, raise the stakes to force them off the blinds and claim them for yourself. And while the blinds may not be all that much, stealing enough of them over time can add up to a reasonable amount of winnings.

Take advantage of continuation betting

Whether you’re playing in-person or real poker online, a continuation bet is simply following a pre-flop wager with a bet in the next round on the flop. This bluff signals to other players that the flop cards support your hand, even if they don’t make your hand better at all.

Raise on the flop

Take advantage of continuation betting even more by raising on the flop. Like a continuation bet bluff, this signals to your opponents that you have a strong hand, but takes it one step further since you are “so confident” in the strength of your hand that you raised the previous wager.

Float the flop

A three of diamonds, eight of hearts and an ace of hearts revealed on the flop.

If another player makes a continuation bet, make sure to call their bet before the turn. This will give you the opportunity to bluff on the turn and claim the pot. However, this bluff is usually only recommended under specific circumstances. 

You need to make sure you’re in position (the last player to act in a round) to gain the most value out of this move. Otherwise, it won’t be as strong, especially against a player who regularly bets pre-flop and follows up with a continuation bet. 

Also, this strategy isn’t as useful if you have more than one opponent, and better players will call you on your bluff, so make sure you’ve correctly sized up your opponent’s skill level before you attempt to pull this off at a casual game or online poker tournament.

Give them “both barrels”

Following a continuation bet with another bet when you’re bluffing is referred to as double-barrelling. This is because your first bet is the “first barrel” while your second bet is the “second barrel.” The double-barrelled bluff is especially potent when a high-value turn card, such as an ace, is revealed. This is because you’re more likely to fool your opponent into thinking you have a strong hand than if it was a lower-value card.

Use a “3-bet”

The term “3-bet” may actually be a bit misleading to those who are hearing the term for the first time, as it’s not obvious that it involves three bets. Most commonly, it refers to when two raises occur before the flop, but this is considered a “3-bet” because the big blind is technically the first wager. The reason why this is a powerful bluffing tool is because a player that raises after the first raise usually has a strong hand, particularly pre-flop. 

A 3-bet is only recommended with a weaker hand that has the potential to become a good hand as more community cards are revealed. If the hand is just terrible and has no late-game potential, 3-betting is just a bad idea.

Play poker online to refine your bluffing ability at Borgata Online

Of course, the best way to develop your bluffing skills is to put in some practice. If you enjoy playing casual poker games, online poker tournaments or reading up on how to improve your game with the latest poker tournament tips, you can’t go wrong with Borgata Online. You can also improve your understanding of the game with our invaluable online poker guide to make sure you understand the rules of the game. 

When you are ready, enjoy the best live poker online when you register at Borgata Online.