Bluffing is an integral part of poker.
The value you get from getting your opponent to throw away the best hand will make a huge difference in the long run.
That doesn’t mean, however, you should be bluffing very much when you’re just learning to play.
There are a few reasons for this but one of the main ones is that you simply don’t know which hands you should be bluffing with.
For the first 10 or 20 games you play, you need to get a rock solid idea about relative hand strength.
You need to not only understand what beats what but why certain hands (two-pair, trips) may not be as strong as you might think they are.
Learning When to Bluff is An Art
Here’s the thing about good bluffs: you need to tell a story.
And you need to tell that story from the beginning of the hand right to the very end so your opponent can make a lay down believing it to be the right choice.
Here’s the other thing: there are good and bad times to bluff.
If your opponent has been firing bets on all streets, you’ve called those bets and the river completes a straight or flush, your opponent will be uncomfortable if you make a large bet or check-raise.
There are also awful times to bluff. If the river card changes nothing then it’s going to be very hard to bluff someone off a strong hand unless you have a very good read.
Bluffing is more about playing the player rather than the cards so you need to understand the fundamentals of poker before you do it.
The Safer Semi-Bluff
If you really want to bluff and can’t wait any longer you might want to try the semi-bluff.
The idea is you simply play an average hand a little more aggressively than you normally would.
It’s especially useful if you have position. If you have something like 9-8 suited or a baby pair like 3-3 it’s easy to make a raise from the button if action is folded to you.
If you hit any part of the flop - such as a set or a straight draw - than you can turn your “bluff” into a strong hand.
On the other hand if you miss everything you can make an easy laydown without risking much.
Whatever you do try to avoid playing truly trashy unconnected hands like 7-3 or 9-2 -- even for bluffing.