The Art of Bluffing In No-Limit Texas Hold'em
Bluffing is the most prestigious and the most satisfying act in the game of poker. Warning: bluffing, when it works like a charm, may result in orgasm.
Indeed, the pleasure of taking another man's money when he had the far better hand and you just bluffed his punk ass and made him submit is excellent.
When you are playing No Limit Hold'em, bluffing is an especially important part of the game. It's in the name: "no limit." As in no limit to how big you can bluff.
But be careful. Here are three strategic considerations ever No Limit Player must consider:
1. No Limit Bluffs Should Have High Hopes
When you're in a No Limit game, you're always in danger that someone will go in and they might be bluffing you, but if you call them, your stack will be crushed. So you fold.
You fold just like they want you to.
But maybe they had cards?
But there's no way to know, they didn't show after and why should they.
When you're by the nature of the game constantly exposed to bluffs of this kind, you must carefully pick your spots when it comes to the bluffing action that comes from you.
One thing to think about is that when you bluff in No Limit Hold'em, you should have a "highest and best use" purpose in your bluff. You may be trying to steamroll a weak opponent, bring more money into this particular pot, or merely bluffing so that next time you bet like this, they'll think you're bluffing again, but then you'll drop down with a hand from on high.
Whatever the reason, make sure it's a reason that justifies every chip you invest. Never bluff because your ego says so and never bluff out of desperation.
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2. Know What Hand They're So Excited About
A humongous part of bluffing in No Limit Hold'em is identifying what hand the other person(s) have--or are portraying that they have--that will justify them calling your bluff.
This is when supreme knowledge of card and hand values is supremely valuable. If you are sitting there after the flop contemplating a bluff at the pot, you have to think about about what your opponents may be holding that would make it worth their risk to challenge you if you place a serious bluff.
If you aren't intimately familiar with what hands beat what hands, you're going to have a difficult time making a legitimate bluff.
On the other hand, if you can instantly see, say, two opponents' possible hands, the time may be ripe to go ahead and bluff, especially if you're in late position and your two opponents either checked or threw in weak bets, indicating that whatever they have, they're not that excited.
Watch out though that you don't get check-raised in this situation pulling this maneuver.
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3. Know What Hand You're Saying You Have
At the same time that you're trying to figure out what winning hands your opponent(s) could be holding, you also must be thinking about what they think you might be holding.
There is, after all, a high level of specificity to successful bluffing in No Limit Hold'em. You should be bluffing so that they think you have the hand that they fear you have. If there are three connected flush cards on the board at the flop, and you're betting big, they're thinking maybe you've already made a straight or a flush with your two down cards.
Maybe, God forbid, you've made a straight flush.
These "I'm telling you" bluffs can be very successful in No Limit Hold'em. Ironically, one chief reason why this telegraphed form of bluffing works so well in No Limit is because many of the other players may be conserving their chips so that they can use the same bluff later.
Just make sure that you know who you're playing with when you bluff in No Limit Hold'em. If you don't have the bankroll, psychology, or facial expression to bluff against someone who doesn't care if they lose money, is a cold player, and/or reads people well, be wary of getting too crazy with No Limit bluffs, because they can really get you in trouble.
Nevertheless, when you do bluff, make it count by considering the No Limit Hold'em bluffing tips: hope for the best, be specific about their hands, and represent your hand like you mean it.
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