Should You Use Bluffing In Your Game? Absolutely. If you never bluff then your opponents (if they are paying attention) will be able to put you on a hand every time you bet.
Types of Bluffs:
Stone Cold Bluff – You have rags and start betting knowing you have 0 chance of winning the hand
Semi Bluff – Betting on straight draws, flush draws, with middle pair or any other hand that may or may not improve by the river. You have a chance at winning the hand you just haven’t clenched it yet. Representing The Flop – You throw out a big bet on the flop when there’s a high card, 3 to a flush, an obvious straight, etc. Your bet makes your opponents think you flopped something better than their hand. This style of bluff is usually executed with a pre flop raise followed by a bet on the flop.
This can also work on the turn and would have the same title only the word flop is replaced by turn. Again you would want to throw out a pre flop raise (medium sized raise to cause opponents to think you have a medium sized pocket pair), check the flop then raise the turn.
When Should You Bluff? Execute Stone Cold Bluffs when you are in Late Position and no real betting has taken place. Or try executing a Stone Cold Bluff when a “scare card” comes. Examples of scare cards would include a card that is larger than everything previously on the board, an obvious straight draw or a flush draw. Inside/Gut shot straight draws are harder to represent because a good deal of opponents won’t even see the straight draw and will discredit your raise. Throwing out a large bet in Early Position is likely to get you into trouble unless you’ve been seen as a tight player, then opponents will most likely (unless they’re bad, have a really good hand, or have a read on you) fold to you.
As for Semi Bluffing do that when it’s your turn to act OR check then reraise an opponent who throws out a bet.
Representing the flop or turn should also be done in Late Position that way you know all of your opposition is weak and will (most likely) fold to your bet. Trying to represent the flop in Early Position may land you in a stand off with someone who really has cards on the flop, or they may give your pre flop and flop raise credit and drop the hand.
When Should You NOT Bluff? You should NEVER under any circumstances try to bluff a bad player. The reason being is that bad players don’t know you are trying to make a move on them and will call regardless. You should also not bluff a calling station and wait to execute bluffs on the river against Fishermen. Fishermen seem to call every bet regardless of size until they failed to make their draw on the river, at which point you can take the pot from them. You should also never try to bluff a tight player who is in the hand and is BETTING. Bluffing loose players may land you in a world of hurt as well being that they can operate similar to a calling station. You also do not want to bluff desperate players during a tournament. A desperate player is on the short stack and is more likely to take chances to double up than anyone else at the table. If the short stack is in the blinds, however, you may have a much better chance at getting him to lay down the hand depending on the player and their attitude toward any 2 live cards can win a pot.
How Do You Keep From Constantly Getting Caught On Bluffs? First you have to bet big enough to scare people out of the pot. This new minimum raise frenzy sweeping the nation will not cut it when it comes to bluffing. You also cannot have the exact same betting pattern/number of chips you throw out every time you are pulling a move. Raising every time you have a straight or flush draw is another way to get yourself into trouble. Sometimes you have to lay down the draws. Variation is the key to winning pots. If your opponents label you as a bluffer they are much more likely to call you in the future.
NOTE – None of these techniques should be executed with an ‘all in’ maneuver unless you have a great read on your opponent and know he will not call you. Going all in puts ALL your chips on the line and can be a costly gamble. Just because Chris Moneymaker did it in 2003 doesn’t make it a good play. Most people agree if Sammy Farha had caught on to Moneymaker’s tell (He was STARING right at Farha) Moneymaker would have been busted out.