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Poker Dictionary (106) > Bluff

Bluffing in Online Poker

'Bluffing' is another term in a very long list of words that have a very literal translation in poker circles. Whilst the aim of any poker game is to win, this can be done by either getting to showdown with the best hand or betting enough to get your opponents to believe you have the best hand, thus making them fold (which has the same result - you win the pot). An important concept is that your opponents do not know what hand you have, although they may be able to hazard a guess based on information you are giving out. For this reason, it is very common for players to represent the best hand even where they don't. This is known as bluffing.

In online poker, players have move safety than they would have playing a live game, as they don't have to face the blushes when they are caught red handed. As such, there tends to be more bluffing online than you would find in a live poker game.

Whether playing live or online, the art of the bluff is an essential component of the game. If players only win when they had the best hand, there would be considerably less action at the tables and winning a hand would be far less frequent. In principle, it's not about what you hold, it's about what your opponents think you hold. This opens the door to set up plays, represent hands you don't have through bluffing your opponents and showing aggression in the face of weakness.

A player can win a hand with any hand, good or bad. As long as the story fits, you can feed your opponents any story you want.

Different Ways to Bluff an Opponent

There are a number of different types of Bluff that can be made. A 'Semi Bluff' is where a player makes a stab (a bet) at the pot to force an opponent to fold before they have actually made a hand. The 'Semi' element of the term is used as there are outs (cards that could come) to make them a winning hand, meaning they still have a chance to win. For example, you hold 10s-Js and the flop Kh-Qc - 5d. You are playing the board and have no real hand however you have cards that will make you a likely winning hand.

Any running 10 or J, and any A or any 9 for the straight. That is 14 cards that could make you a winning hand, so although you are betting when you haven't yet made the hand, you have a good chance to improve to a likely winning hand - hence it's known as a semi bluff.

Another type is the 'Stone Cold Bluff' and this term is used when there are no cards that could come that could make you a likely winning hand. For instance, your hand is 5s-8h and the board reads As-Qc-10d-2h-4d. Your opponent, who has bet the turn and the river and you push all in. He thinks a while and folds. This is a stone cold bluff as if you were called, you would have lost. The key here is that there was no more chance to improve. You were just bullying your opponent into believing that you had the best hand.

Bluffing is a skill and taking time to learn how and when to do it is key to your development. Whilst it can be very satisfying when it works, you can feel like a tool when it goes wrong. Getting better and recognising the situations that represent the best chance of your steal getting through is an important area of your development.

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