• Profitable Bluffing Made Simple in Two Easy Steps

    Added - April 7, 2014 Poker

    Bluffing is the aspect of poker that really changes things up and adds in a significant element of skill that allows better players to consistently beat worse players over time. The essential idea is that you're able to win a pot without having the best hand, and that's what allows you to win more than your fair share of pots over the long run. Even though bluffing is such an extremely important part of poker, it's one of the parts of the game that we don't intuitively understand on a high level because of the way the math of the situation works out. We want to help you out with this by giving you a simple way to evaluate the profitability of bluffs in just two easy steps.

    There are two pieces of information that you need to know to evaluate whether or not a bluff is going to be profitable. The first piece of information is how often your opponent is going to fold. This is something that you'll have to estimate based on all of the information that you have about your opponent and the situation that you're in. A rough estimate is fine as long as it's narrowed down to an actual percentage.

    The second piece of information you'll need to know is a ratio between the size of your bet and what the pot will be after your bet. To get this, you'll divide the first number by the second. For example, if you are bluffing $14 into a pot of $21, then you'll want to do 14/35 to get 0.4 which is 40 percent. This ratio tells you how often your opponent has to be folding in a pure bluff type of situation for you to be able to make an immediate profit on your bet.

    In most cases, if you have a clear advantage in terms of getting your opponent to fold a lot more than you need them to, then you'll be in good shape to go ahead in bluff. In situations where the numbers are close, more information comes into play. For example, you might have a semi-bluff type of hand where you expect to win some part of the time even if you're called. On the other hand, you might have a reverse implied odds scenario where you're going to be prone to make mistakes later in the hand if you're called, and that can make you shy away from bluffing.