5 Tips to Improve Your Bluffing Strategy with 888poker Ambassador Ian Simpson
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Knowing when and how to make a bluff work is such a big part of poker and it also helps you know when you are the one being bluffed. In the latest Made to Learn strategy video from 888poker, ambassador Ian Simpson relays five useful tips on how to improve your bluffing strategy.
If you find that none of your bluffs work, then watch the video below and read the article to help you become harder to play against.
Have a Plan
The important thing with bluffing is to have a plan and know what you are targeting. If you bet with 10♦9♦ on an ace-six-two board with one diamond, you need a plan for the various turn cards you are going to see. Let's say the next card is a seven, are you going to bet to make king-highs and small pocket pairs fold, or are you going to check to realize your equity?
There are a number of factors that will influence your decision like how aggressive your opponent is or how close to the money you are. Having a plan, lets you focus on other things. If you are playing live poker, you can focus on potentially catching a live tell. If you are playing online, you can focus on other tables.
Know Which Cards Help You
Try to make bluffs on cards that are good for your range and bad for your opponent's range. Let's say for example the button opens and you call in the big blind with 10♥8♥ and the flop comes seven-six-two. It goes check, bet, call, and then a four comes in on the turn. This card is much better for the big blind range than the initial raiser. The big blind can have hands like 5x3x and 8x5x for a really strong hand whereas the opener can't.
In this situation, it gives the big blind a lot of leeway to either lead with a bluff or a value bet.
Know Which Cards Hurt Your Bluff
It's equally important to know which cards hurt your bluffs. Using the same example as above, but in the case, the turn is a king instead of a four, this is a bad card for our big blind range because we would've folded a lot of king-high hands on the flop bet.
However, the preflop raiser can have a lot of king-high hands at this point like king-jack and king-ten as they would have bet the flop usually. So, if you are the initial raiser and but haven't hit the king, it's a great time to represent that you have.
Blocking the Nuts
A nut-blocker is a card you hold that makes it impossible for your opponent to have the nuts. Bluffing into the nuts is no fun, so having the nut-blocker is really important for making a bluff.
If a board reads A♦4♣5♦J♦10♠ and we hold the K♦, this is a really good opportunity to bluff as your opponent can't have hands like K♦Q♦ and K♦10♦ as we block the nuts.
It also makes it less likely they have king-queen for the straight because our K♦ blocks three combos of their offsuit king-queens. It's a lot harder for our opponent to call us when they can't have the nuts.
Tell a Believable Story
A bluff works best when it makes logical sense. Don't try and change your story halfway through a hand and try and represent something you wouldn't have played this way in the first place.
If you never play your nuts in the way you play your bluffs, your opponents will sniff you out. Also if you never bluff in situations where you miss the flop, your opponents will rarely pay you off.
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Calum has been a part of the PokerNews team since September 2021 after working in the UK energy sector. He played his first hand of poker in 2017 and immediately fell in love with the game. Calum's proudest poker achievement is winning the only tournament he has ever played in Las Vegas, the prestigious $60 Flamingo evening event.