How important is bluffing in online poker

Poker is a heady mixture of psychology, strategy and mathematical probability; this means that poker has a profoundly human input rather than just being more of a game of chance like a coin-toss. This means that bluffing is a massive part of its appeal; even in its online Poker variant.

The term alone ‘bluffing’ is highly exciting; it indicates hanging on through the power of the unknown; it’s naturally enigmatic and puts the human psyche at the heart of the gameplay.

There are fundamentally two different types of bluff: the Pure Bluff and the Semi-Bluff. The Semi-Bluff is an inherent part of Community Card gaming (Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha etc). Community Cards mean that – in the case of Texas Hold ‘em – you’re constantly trying to build a hand from the two cards you received on the Flop and the five cards laid down by the dealer. You may be bluffing to build the stakes and stay in the game in the hope that a better hand will emerge, although you shouldn’t be afraid to fold in the latter stages. A game like Texas Hold ‘em - Poker’s most popular variant - involves five distinct phases: The Flop, The River, The Turn, Fourth Street and Fifth Street. This means psychology and the bluff are always present in an ever changing game.

The Pure Bluff involves raising the stakes on a hand that you know is poor. It is deployed when a player knows they can only win if they ‘trick’ everyone else into folding.

In real life, like at the WSOP, we can try to spot bluffing through human traits such as body language or continual extravagant play but in online Poker this may be harder. A large bet after the Flop could be a bluff as it doesn’t encourage others to progress and raise the stakes; perhaps your opponents are taking a while to bet. Deploy the Pure Bluff and Semi Bluff to their best degrees and make notes on opponents. Importantly remember that the bluff in online Poker is as vital as that in the more tangible world; perhaps more so as players may be more inclined to click money into the online Poker pot than slide in real chips.


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