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Anatomy of a Great Poker Bluff

How To Pull Off A Great Poker Bluff

The only thing more satisfying than catching someone in a bluff is pulling off a great bluff yourself. Most new players think bluffing means betting an amount of money that you don’t think your opponent can call, but bluffing is much more complicated than that. It takes a lot of preparation to bluff successfully. You have to pay attention to every aspect of the game so you know how your opponents react under certain circumstances. You’re no longer playing your cards when you bluff. You’re playing your opponents. And that means you have to get into their heads.

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Set The Stage

You have to have the right table image to pull off a bluff and the best image to have is a tight one. If you only play solid hands, your opponents will usually give you credit for a big hand when you show a lot of aggression.
While your opponents will give you a lot of credit when you play tight, they’ll give you next to none when you play loose. If you have a loose table image, you’ve probably been betting and raising with a lot of sub-par hands. Once your opponents realize this, they’re unlikely to let go of any hand that has a reasonable chance of winning. Of course, that doesn’t mean that loose players shouldn’t bluff. They just need to pick their spots more carefully.

Know Who To Bluff

Some players can’t be bluffed. There’s no use trying to bluff someone who will call you with Ace high. If you notice one of your opponents going to showdowns with hands that are third or fourth best, make a mental note not to bluff that person. You could represent the nut flush on a flop of all spades and they’d still call you down with top pair/weak kicker.
The best players to bluff are tight-passive players. These players play very few hands and rarely go to a showdown without the nuts. It’s almost as if putting money in the pot causes these players physical pain. Bluff liberally against this kind of player.

Know Where To Bluff

Bluffing is all about position. The best place to bluff is in late position. That way you can see how your opponents play the hand and put them on a range before you decide whether a good bluff will get them to fold.
The worst place to bluff is in early position. You’re basically bluffing blind and hoping your opponents won’t play back at you.

Know When To Bluff

Smart players make sure they pick the right moment to stage their bluffs. For example, you’re probably not going to bluff successfully when there are five players in the pot. Even if you’re last to act and everyone has checked to you, there’s too great of a chance that someone is going to trap you and check/raise. The best time to bluff is when you’re up against one or two other players who are playing the hand cautiously and a scare card hits. In that situation it only takes a single strong bet to win the pot in most cases.

Know How To Bluff

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t bluff a pot by throwing a lot of money at it. In fact, placing too large of a bet may clue your opponents in that you’re bluffing. You have to be aware of your betting patterns so you don’t raise anyone’s suspicions. Ask yourself, “How would I play this hand if I had the nuts?” Then play your hand accordingly.


Poker bluffing is an art form and one that takes a lot of practice to master. Fight the urge to bluff by throwing money at your opponents. Take some time to build a favorable table image and decide what player(s) to target. Then look for a good spot and strike when the time is right. Check out this video of one of the most insane bluffs with garbage cards. Scotty picked this spot well!