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Learn how to bluff in poker.

There are only two ways to win at poker. One is to have the best hand. That is a wonderful thing indeed, but it is something that you have no control over. It is determined by the random deal of the cards in the casino or the online poker room, and it does not happen often. In fact, at a six-player table, it is unlikely to happen more than 17 percent of the time.

The second way is to induce your opponents to fold. This is something that you do have control over, and this is where The Art of the Bluff comes in.

What Is a Bluff?

According to the dictionary, “bluff” can be a verb meaning “to deter or frighten by pretense or a mere show of strength” or a noun meaning “a false threat or claim intended to deter or deceive someone.” In life and in poker, a well-timed and well-executed bluff can bring big rewards, but it must be done correctly to pay off.

It is actually possible to rob a bank with a toy gun. It is even possible to rob a bank with nothing more than your hand in your jacket pocket. All you have to do is act and speak with the confidence of a real bank robber brandishing a real gun, and you can make a million dollars or more in real money. That is the art of the bluff.

Anatomy of a Bluff: Daniel Negreanu in Monte Carlo

In poker, bluffing means playing a weak hand as if you had a strong hand, thereby causing your opponents to fold and giving you the pot.

Daniel Negreanu is one of the greatest poker players in the world and he pulled off one of the greatest poker bluffs at the European Poker Tour Championship in Monte Carlo. Here’s how he did it.

The blinds on this hand were 10,000/5,000. After the deal, in the Pre-Flop betting round:

  • Daniel Negreanu, with a Jack of spades and 7 of spades, raises to 22,000.
  • Ike Haxton, with an Ace of clubs and 10 of clubs, calls.
  • Paul Phua, with a 4 of hearts and an unknown card, calls.
  • Four other players at the table fold.

Then comes the Flop: Ace of diamonds, King of clubs, and 4 of clubs.

  • Negreanu, with nothing, bets 36,000.
  • Haxton, with a pair of Aces and a flush draw, calls.
  • Phua folds.

The Turn was the 6 of spades.

  • Negreanu, with nothing, bets 85,000.
  • Haxton, with a pair of Aces and a flush draw, calls.

Finally comes the River: Queen of diamonds.

  • Negreanu, with nothing, bets 185,000.
  • Haxton, with a pair of Aces, folds.

And that is how Daniel Negreanu robbed the bank. With a worthless hand, a confident demeanor, and four aggressive bets, he pulled off the big bluff and won a big pot. Extremely well done.

You too can learn to win pots by bluffing. When you play poker online, facial expressions and body language are out of the equation, but you can still bluff with your bets. How much you bet and how quickly you bet are both factors in executing a successful online poker bluff.

Caution: Use It Rarely

The thing about bluffing is that it loses its effectiveness if you use it too often. After a few successful bluffs, the bank guards will catch on that your gun is a toy and they will tackle you and handcuff you and send you off to the penitentiary and the poker players at your table will catch on that your cards are worthless and they will call you and beat you at the showdown.

Used rarely and wisely, the bluff is a fantastic poker tool. Do it, but don’t overdo it. Have fun, and good luck!