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Bluffing in No Limit Hold'em
Never bluff in no-limit Holdem and your opponents will know that a bet means you have a good hand. Always bluffing is a quick and easy way to lose your stack. Correct bluffing strategy in no-limit Holdem games is a complex subject, good bluffs will increase your poker profits considerably. This article looks at the different types of poker bluffing and suggests many ways to improve your bluff success – and thus your profits.
We will start with a definition of the common forms of no-limit Holdem bluffs. Next the optimal circumstances for bluffing will be covered. Important factors include the number of opponents, the texture of the flop and your table image. Finally, bet sizing for bluffs will be discussed including how to ensure that these maximize the profits from your bluffing plays.
Types of Bluffs
- The Pure Bluff: You have nothing but feel a bluff can get your
opponent to fold a weak made hand.
- The ‘Semi-Bluff’: You do not think you have the best hand at the moment but have ‘outs’ that could make your hand the winner if you do get called.
- The Continuation Bet: Betting the flop after you raise before the flop, you are continuing to show strength even though you may have missed.
- The ‘Check-Raise’ bluff: You check-raise an opponent without a hand – showing extreme strength in the hope that your opponent lays down a strong holding.
- The ‘Post-Oak’ Bluff: You raise a small amount that looks like you want to be called, hoping your opponent will see this as a ‘trap’ and fold.
Bluffing with nothing at all in your hand in no-limit Holdem can be an expensive strategy. If you choose to bluff without a hand then it is important to make sure that your betting tells a consistent story and that you are representing a plausible holding.
An example would be if you called a bet on the flop with an obvious draw showing – the best example being 2 suited cards. When a 3rd card of that suit falls on the turn you can now bet, representing that you have made a flush. There is a fair chance this will get an opponent with a weak pair (for example) to fold.
Bluffing With Outs
The best bluffing strategy in No-Limit Holdem is to use your drawing hands to bluff with. These are known as semi-bluffs as you may win the hand even when the bluff component of your bet fails, or you can win the pot immediately when your opponent holds. 4 cards to a straight would represent a great opportunity to semi-bluff.
Semi-bluffs can be profitable even when their component parts are not. For example a bluff with nothing would be unprofitable as your opponent might call too often. Drawing to your straight may also be unprofitable as you do not have the correct pot-odds.
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However the combination of having your opponent fold half the time, and making your straight 1/3rd of those times you are called become profitable together. This is why semi-bluffing is usually a better strategy option than pure bluffs.
Opponents to Consider
The number of opponents you face is a major factor in bluffing strategy. One opponent is the ideal number, 2 opponents already doubles your risk and any more than this then you should wait for a better opportunity for bluffing. The danger of at least one opponent having a hand that they will call with is too great.
The Community Cards
The texture of the flop describes the cards that fall and how they work together. The best flops for bluffing do not contain any obvious straight or flush draws. If you are called on the flop you are never sure whether your opponent called with a flush draw (for example) or with a pair. Conversely when there are no draws on the flop it is more likely your opponent either missed completely or has that paired hand. A bluff is more likely to succeed the less draws there are on the flop.
Bet sizing is an important consideration in bluffing strategy. If you bet the size of the pot on the flop your opponent must fold 50% of the time to make this bet profitable. If you only bet half of the pot your opponent needs to fold only 1 time in 3 for your bluff to show a profit. The key to bet sizing, particularly with continuation-bet style bluffs, is to bet the smallest amount that will ‘get the job done’.
In summary, bluffing in no-limit Holdem is a complex area. There are several types of bluff each with their own strategy considerations. The best bluffs have a back-up in that you might win the hand even when you are called – these are known as semi bluffs. Good bluffing strategy involves bluffing into as few opponents as possible and on flops without obvious flush or straight draws. Size your bluffs to get the job done with the minimum outlay for greater profits over time.
Ready to Play?
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