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Bluffing in Poker

There are two types of poker bluffs – a Pure Bluff and a Semi-Bluff. We will start out discussing a pure bluff (I will just refer to it as a - bluff) then I will move on to the semi-bluff.

A bluff is a bet or a raise made with a hand that has no chance of winning. The purpose of a bluff is to win a pot when your hand is not strong enough to do so on it’s own. You are essentially representing a big hand when in reality you have nothing. Bluffing is a very valuable weapon to have in your poker arsenal but you should make sure you use it correctly and don’t over use it.

If you are like me and watch of lot of poker on TV it seems as if bluffs are an almost constant part of poker. Don’t let that fool you. Lots of hands don’t make the final cut and since poker bluffs make for good TV you’ll see an awful lot of them.

I feel that bluffing in low limit poker games are pretty much a waste of time. Low limit poker is essentially a showdown game. There also tends to be lots of poor players who will call to the very end and they just might have something to beat you with. I recommend not bluffing in low limit games.
Bluffing can work well in higher limit games especially against tight players. If the pot is on the small side your bluff has a better chance of working than if it were a large pot. A large pot can give someone the correct pot odds to stay in the game.

You also may have better success in short handed games as there will usually not be a lot of money in the pot and a player on a flush draw may not want to continue because they are not getting the right odds to do so.

You should also take your position at the table into account when looking to bluff. For example, if you are on the button and everyone else at the table has folded, you might be able to steal the blinds with a bluff. While this can be an effective strategy, you should not try this too often. If you keep raising all the time on the button the players in the blinds will eventually play back at you.

Some poker players use a bluff to show that they actually do bluff. They then hope that the other players call them later on in the game when they are not bluffing. Using a bluff in this way can be expensive and you should be careful not to overuse this strategy.

For your bluff to work it must be believable.


Semi-bluffing is a profitable technique that is used instead of a pure bluff.

You would use a semi-bluff when your hand is not strong enough to win but might be if you are able to improve it. By betting, you are looking for the other players to fold so that you will win the pot right then and there.

However, if a player at the table calls your bet you still have a chance to improve your hand and win.

A perfect situation for a semi-bluff is when you a flush or straight draw. By betting or raising you may end up winning the pot.

For Example, your hole cards are a King of Clubs and an Eight of Clubs.

Then the flop comes down as a Jack of Clubs, Eight of Hearts, and a Five of Clubs.

If you bet and no one else has a Jack they may figure you for a pair of Jacks and fold. If you are called, your pair of Eights can be beaten by anyone holding a Jack.

However, you have many ways of improving your hand. There are nine Clubs that will give you a flush. There are three Kings that will give you two pairs. There are two Eights that can make you trips or quads. You even have the possibility of a full house if you were to catch another King and Eight on the Turn and River.

You can use a semi-bluff more than you can a straight bluff as you do have a chance of improving your hand. Just remember, you can only do this when there are more cards to come.

Bluffing is an important part of your poker arsenal. But it is a tool that you should use carefully. Overusing it will reduce its effectiveness.

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