A Bluffing Case Study for No Limit Hold'em

Bluffing is difficult to do well, and can sometimes get you into trouble, but much more often can get you out of it. By examining this case study of how bluffing might come to your rescue, you can learn a lot about when to properly apply a bluff.

The Setup

You've been dealt a decent hand, but it's not so great that you raise before the flop. Rather, your opponent and you both bet safely to see the flop, after which your opponent again bets safely. So what do you do? You raise, of course.

The Mistake

Once your opponent raises you back, you realize your error: they've played you. Even though they made their hand look standard, they've now hooked you for more money than you might otherwise have committed if you'd known.

The Save

Beat them at their own game. Instead of letting them take the pot, make it really expensive. See their bet, and wait for the turn. If the card is halfway decent - like a heart when there are three on the table already, or a four-card straight draw - then pretend you've got a winner, bet like hell, and watch them squirm.

The Ace Up Your Sleeve

It's important to keep in mind that bluffing too often is just as predictable as always playing your hand straight. The key to winning at Hold'em is unpredictability, so you may sometimes need to let a game slip through your fingers in order to keep bluffing as your secret weapon.

Nevertheless, having a trick like this is a lot more useful than not having one, so watch for those "mistakes," opportunities where a good bluff can save your hand.