What makes poker so unusual and appealing is that it is not necessarily always the best hand that wins. Poker may be a game of chance but mastering certain skills can certainly sway the odds in your favour.

One poker skill that has taken on almost mythical status is called bluffing. In a nutshell, bluffing involves fooling your opponent into thinking that you hold a winning hand – when, in fact, you have nothing – by raising the bet.  If the bluff is successful, the opponent will fold, giving up the win that would have been theirs if they had called your bluff.

Clearly, a skill that allows you to win even when you have nothing of value in your hand is a potent weapon to wield at a poker table. But it is also a very dangerous one and should be used with caution. One of the most common mistakes that novice poker players make is thinking they understand bluffing when they don’t. This can be a very costly error if your opponent calls your bluff after you have put a lot of chips on a worthless hand.

So, while you’re practising your poker face, here are a few other bluffing essentials to bear in mind:

The Best Bluffing Targets

Ironically, the popular opinion in poker is that bluffing a good player is easier than bluffing a bad one. That’s because good poker players pay attention to their opponents, whereas bad ones tend to base their poker decisions on nothing in particular or on some arbitrary system they have devised. This is not, however, a hard and fast rule.

In general, bluffing should be avoided when opponents are overconfident as they may continue to bet even if they believe your bluff, assuming that their hand is still superior. The same applies to reckless players and players who are always quick to raise. The ideal bluffing targets are usually careful players who are tight with their raises.

For this reason, it’s important to monitor your opponents’ betting behaviour over time.

Bluffing and Hand Values

When you bluff on an absolutely worthless hand, this is called pure bluffing and the only way to win is by fooling your opponent into folding. Semi-bluffs, meanwhile, are a less risky form of bluffing where your hand still has the potential to improve with the next card if your opponent calls your bluff.

Bet Sizes and Bluffing

Another common novice bluffing mistake involves simply overdoing it. It is very important not to wager any more than you have to in order to convince your opponent that you have a better hand than they do. Wagering too much increases the risk of the bluffing and may alert your opponent to the fact that you are bluffing. Once again, familiarising yourself with your opponent’s betting behaviour will help you know when to hold and when to fold.

Bluffing and Order of Play

It is generally easier to bluff if your turn is after that of your opponent as this gives you the opportunity to monitor his or her reaction before you make any decisions. By the same token, however, experienced players will be expecting you to bluff if your position is relatively far down the table, which gives players in earlier positions the element of surprise.

Bluffing is also generally easier if you are only trying to fool one opponent at skrill online casino Australia.

Bluffing Goes Both Ways

And remember – you are not necessarily the only one who is bluffing. All of the bluffing principles explained here can and should be applied in reverse.