Want to learn how to bluff in poker?
You’ve come to the right place. 

Alright, so you’ve been playing poker for a while now and feel like you’re beginning to understand the game. Aces are good, a flush beats a straight – and the player who’s dealt the best cards always wins – right?
Thankfully, no.

Because poker is a game played in the mind as much as on the table – and great players know how to get a quick win from terrible cards, by tricking their opponents into folding an otherwise great hand.

It’s time we talk ‘bluffing’ – and, oh boy, is it going to make a difference.

If you prefer watching over reading, we’ve made an entire video explaining how to bluff in poker. This blog post continues beneath the video. 

Why Bluff? 

Alright, so, the perfect hand doesn’t come around too often when playing Texas Hold’em.
This means you can’t just go all in when you’re dealt a monster hand, and fold every time you get a bad hand. This would be too easy for your opponents to read.

This is why the best poker players switch up their play, and sometimes try to trick their opponents into misreading them. 

This effort of misleading is what we call bluffing and, if done right, it will keep your opponent guessing, never getting an actual read on your game.
Allowing you to win pots with a terrible hand. So it’s important to know how to bluff. 

Now, bluffing is usually divided into two different kinds of bluffs, called a ‘pure bluff’ and a ‘semi bluff’.

What is a pure bluff? 

A pure bluff is when you’re dealt a terrible hand but choose to play it very aggressively in an effort to convince the other players that you have a great hand. To scare them into folding their otherwise superior hand. 

Like if you’re dealt a hand of 7 2 off suit. This is the worst hand in Texas Hold’em poker, and would normally always lose. But, let’s say you’re big blind and therefore already somewhat invested in the round. Raising here might get everyone else to fold, and so not only would you not use your big blind, but also steal a nice little pot. 

A pure bluff is of course extremely risky, and is therefore often referred to as a ‘stone cold bluff’. But, getting a quick win with a terrible hand can help you a lot – and will keep your opponents guessing.   

What is a semi bluff?

Less risky, is the semi bluff.
This is when you’re dealt cards that aren’t good, but could turn into something if the community cards hit just right. A hand like 7 8 suited. This of course isn’t a strong hand, but it is suited connectors, so you have a decent chance of hitting either a straight or a flush in combination with the community cards. 

A semi bluff is when you have cards that aren’t great, but could turn into something.
Like 8 9 suited. This isn’t a strong hand, but since they are suited connectors, you have a decent chance of hitting a flush or a straight from the community cards.  

A semi bluff is of course a lot less risky than a pure bluff, and for that reason, it’s usually performed a bit less aggressively.

When to bluff

Now, when you bluff should of course vary. Never be easy to read. 
But, 3 factors should help you pick the optimal time to bluff. 

1) Number of opponents
The more players in the hand, the more people have to buy your bluff.
It is always going to be easier to convince one or two players, than a whole table.
You’ll want to limit your bluffing to when you’re up against one or two players. 

2) Strength of opponents
Players who are low on chips or who try just calling instead of raising, might not have the courage to call your bluff. But the chip leader probably will.
Consider your opponent’s situation, and make sure you don’t challenge a hard ball. 

3) Your opponent’s playing style  
All players are different, and you should always consider your opponent when choosing a strategy in poker. Players who call and fold a lot are referred to as ‘tight players’, and other players who bluff and raise a lot in are often called loose or aggressive. 
It might be more prudent to bluff against a player with a tight playing style, than a loose cannon who might suddenly call your bluff.

When you bluff

So, you’ve found the perfect hand to bluff – now, how do you actually convince your opponent? He or she is probably looking for tells to spot your bluff, and you’ll want to use every trick in the book to hide it. 

 Luckily, we have some rules of thumb that will help you do that.Namely ‘representing a hand’ and the ‘continuation bet’. Let’s have a look.

How to bluff

Representing a hand

You need to always be aware of the game’s development.
Keep the community cards in mind, and act accordingly. If you’re bluffing hitting a pair of aces on the flop, and the turn shows another ace, you need to double down on your first bet – since you’re now bluffing having 3 aces. When fully committing to a bluff, forget your actual hand and act like you have the hand you’re trying to convince them. 

Otherwise, good players will easily spot your bluff and lure you into a trap.

C-bet (continuation bet)

In for a penny, in for a pound.
If you’ve made a bet pre-flop you need to keep betting after the flop, whether the community cards have given you anything or not. The last thing you want is for someone to follow an initial bet and then just ride it out from there to the showdown.
You have to be more aggressive, and keep betting.
A C-bet shows confidence and initiative. Without it, your opponent will easily be able to spot that your initial bet was just a bluff.

🚨 Most important rule of how to bluff 🚨

Remember, if you’re bluffing, you need to make all opponents fold.
The last thing you want is to end up in an awkward showdown with your terrible hand and a bunch of chips invested. Finish the job before that, and get your opponent to tap out.

Practice how to bluff

So there you go. Now you know when and how to bluff. If done correctly, this will make a huge difference to your game, by allowing you to win pots even when dealt terrible cards.

To practice your skills, I recommend downloading our free EasyPoker app.
It’s a digital version of a physical poker set – perfect for poker with friends! 

Pokerface app alternative download
Poker Rules

More tutorials

Poker is a wonderful game – easy to learn, but hard to master.
To add more tools in your poker toolbelt of strategies, consider watching the full playlist we have on YouTube. I tried to keep it light and fun, and it is in to way overly complicated. 

It will take you through the most common aspect of poker strategy and take you from beginner to advanced – in under an hour!

Or head on over to this blog post, that talks about poker tells and how to spot them.
That way, you’ll be able to sniff out a bluff from other players as well.

You can find it here.

Poker tells