Bluffing is a key step in mastering no-limit Hold'em. Knowing how to recognize a great bluffing opportunity will measurably increase your win rate.
Think of small bluffs as bets where no one seems interested in the pot. The first person to shoot usually takes it down. These bluffs are most commonly continuation bets, positional bets, or probe bets.
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Big bluffs are those times when someone else has shown aggression in the hand or a clear desire to win the pot, but you think you can pressure them into folding. This can be done with little to no showdown value, but it takes some practice to get the hang of it.
Basic Bluffing Math
- A 1/2 pot bet will show an immediate profit when your opponent folds 1/3 of the time.
- A 2/3 pot bet will show a profit when your opponent folds 40% of the time.
- A full-sized pot will show a profit when your opponent folds 50% of the time.
- A 1.5 pot bet will show a profit when your opponent folds 60% of the time.
- 2 pot bet profits when your opponent folds 2/3 of the time.
Keep in mind that your opponents may read your bets in different ways. However, in general, the more you bet, the more difficult it is for your opponent to call.
How to Bluff
This is a checklist you can use while considering a bluff.
1. Be in Position
Position, as always, makes everything easier. When your opponent is out of position, they are much less likely to call.
2. Believable Hand
A believable hand is that all action in the hand up to the point of the bluff should be able to represent at least a couple of hands that would make sense to your opponent. You just check down to the river and then make a huge raise. It might be difficult for your opponent to give you credit for a real hand.
3. Have Money Behind
Having more money behind you as well as another street of action can make your opponent nervous if you place another big bet. Especially if you have position because they will be forced to act first on the next street. In general, when looking at this list, the turn is often a good spot to make your bluffs.
4. Have Threat of Additional Pressure on Later Streets
In addition to having money behind and another street. The draws your opponent may have flopped have much worse odds on the turn. They will be forced to fold more hands on the turn than they would have on the flop.