A common mistake most new poker players make is that they engage in bluffing even when the situation is not ripe for such a play. Some even make a numeric method, such that after some number of hands, they make a bluff.
However, bluffing is not as simple as playing aggressively with weak hand. Pulling off a successful bluff requires the proper timing, the proper situation, and a good skill in creating table images.
Generally, you should bluff when the following conditions are met:
- You have a table image equivalent to a statue
If you could play without showing any sign of emotion and have a blank face all throughout the game, then you have a good chance of pulling off a bluff. If you have a stone-cold table image, you could pull off a bluff even if the table conditions are not ripe. However, if you are unsure as to the strength of your table image, do not risk it.
- You are lucky enough to be in a late position
If you are in the starting position or one of the blinds, then by no chance are you fit for bluffing. In the late position, you could easily assess the conditions of the table, since most players have passed their turn. If most players before you have folded, then you have a good chance of successfully bluffing.
- The board cards could mask your weak hand
If after the flop, the board cards give way to possibilities of improving hands, then you have a situation ripe for bluffing. If for example the board cards indicate that a straight or a flush could be made, then it is easy to deceive others that you have an improved hand.
- You deduce that other players have weak hands
If you are able to read telling signs that your opponents have weak and vulnerable hands, then you could easily make them fold by playing aggressively. Just be on the lookout for slow-playing players, as they will be your demise when bluffing.
- You are only up against a single player
When facing a single opponent, you could only either play aggressively or give up your hand. Thus, bluffing becomes easier, since the other player will only have two options: call your bluff, or fold. And you could also react much faster.
By knowing the right conditions for bluffing, you will avoid falling into a sticky situation of someone calling your bluff up to a showdown. Remember, do not bluff just to bluff, see the right conditions before you do.