Bluffing is part of the game of poker that some people have a psychological block against using. Whether it is because there is an element of dishonesty about it, or perhaps the fear of loss is greater than the potential gain, for some reason there are players who just do not feel comfortable with bluffing.
Whatever you own personal feelings about it, there are reasons why, not only should you use this technique, but be aware of who is using it and when, so you can determine whether to call a potential bluff.
There are a number of reasons why a player could be bluffing. The most common is to steal blinds and antes, and this is normally done later in the game when the blinds are worth stealing (you will not see it happen so frequently when the blinds are 10/20!).
Along the same lines, if there have been a number of reasonable bets placed into a pot, the potential of the prize may be sufficiently tempting for somebody to place a large bet in the hope that everybody else folds. This is considered particularly risky, as the more people that are in a pot, the more likelihood there is that at least one of the players is holding something of value.
Further examples of when a player is bluffing are when he is trying to obtain the best betting position at the table and is betting into the dealer and blinds to “steal the button”. However, the hardest bluff to spot is when the player has already made a substantial pre-flop bet and then makes a bigger bet, once the first three community cards have been drawn. Has he caught? It is going to cost you to see.
If you have been diligently observing your companions around the table, you may have already noted that certain players tend to play more aggressively in certain positions, and this can be a clue as to whether the player is bluffing or not. The looser they tend to be – even just in one or two positions – the more likely that they are bluffing. For example, if you distinguish a pattern whereby a particular player is frequently raising in the seats immediately before the dealer, it could be worth taking him on. Your observations should have also told you if this is a player not likely to bluff.
If you want to pull off bluffing strategy to perfection, make it look as if you are one of the players who are least likely to bluff. If you play tight throughout a couple of circuits of the button, your adversaries will not be expecting you to bluff and will fall for your steal.
Being able to bluff is an extra feature to your game that you should use sparingly. It will give you a little advantage over all those people who do not like to bluff for the reasons given above, and played at the right time will be potentially lucrative for you.