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Bluffing in no-limit holdem poker

Bluffing is probably the most talked about aspect of poker.

Tell someone you play poker and they usually say "ohhh you got a good poker face do ya??" implying that the only people good at poker are those that have some type of deceptive or tricky nature. While being good at deception isn't necessary to solid poker play, it sure can help and especially in no limit Texas Holdem Poker.

Positional Advantage And Putting A Player On A Hand

The simplest form of bluffing in NL Texas Hold'Em comes when you have a positional advantage - Let's say a moderate player raises pre flop from middle position while you are on the button. You hold AsQs and decide to just call rather than raise. The flop comes QhKh2d, the original bettor comes out with a medium sized bet. Believing in your positional advantage and your superior playing ability, you again decide to just call rather than raise.

Now the turn brings the 4h, this is an excellent time to take down the pot.

If the middle position aggressor bets, you can come right over the top representing a flush and make him fold, or at least seriously make him consider whether or not his AK is the best hand. Now this above example is actually more of a "semi" bluff. You have a solid pair, but you assume your opponent holds a higher pair.

If you are incorrect however, your pair of queens very well may be enough to take down the pot. Which brings us to another important part in bluffing and positional advantage and that is being able to put your opponent on a hand. In the above scenario you deduce that your opponent has only AK, not KK, which would be far superior in this situation and you would not want to attempt the bluff! Here are some tips for putting a player on a hand:

Bluffing With Nothing

Sometimes in no limit hold'em you just have to be gutsy and bluff with nothing. There are no steadfast rules as to when the best time to do this is. There are however some tips and things you can look for to improve your chances of success with this kind of move.

The blinds, an inherent spot of weakness, can be an excellent place to make a move from. When a strong player least expects it and the board is scary, such as 96QQ fire away, especially after they bet.

If you are confident you can outplay a weak or inexperienced player then this is a good time to bluff with nothing. By gauging their reaction to the flop, you can use your chips to muscle them around. Do this however with tact and only when your money really makes a difference to said player. Don't do it every time either, especially to the same guy. Some players learn very fast and they might take those chips right back if you push to hard.

To summarize, there's no recipe for bluffing. It's an art that can only mastered by practicing when real money is on the table. It takes time and what works for one player or table may not work with the next. Take your time, trust your reads, and try a few well timed bluffs. Keep in mind that sometimes the old saying applies: "I call your bluff"!