Bluffing in Online Texas Holdem

Virtually everyone who is familiar with Texas Holdem understands the concept of a bluff. If bluffing did not exist, Texas Holdem would be a very boring game. Like chess. When everyone bets exactly in accordance with the strength of their hand, there is little in the way of skill involved. Being deceptive about the strength of your hand and betting when you are weak is a large part of what creates complexity in Texas Holdem strategy. How often should you bluff in online Texas Holdem, and how should you adjust your bluffing patterns to the online game? How much you bluff will be dependent on the type of game you are in, just like most pieces of a sound Texas Holdem strategy. If you are playing tight-passive opponents who tend to only bet or call with very strong hands, you should bluff more often. If you are against loose aggressive opponents who call frequently, you should be more reluctant to bluff.

You should bluff online somewhat less frequently than you would according to correct live game Texas Hold em strategy. This is because online players tend to call more frequently. They do this because A) as hard as physical chips are to think of as real money, digital representations of chips are that much harder and B) many players like to be very aggressive online as they are not afraid of giving off physical tells that they are bluffing. Since they bluff more, they are likely to assume other players are bluffing more as well, and hence call more often.

Bluffing in low-stakes limit online Texas Holdem is almost never advisable. This is because in addition to online players' natural propensity to “call you down,” the size of the biggest bet you can make in relation to the pot nearly always makes calling a correct Texas Holdem strategy even for players who think they are beat. When limits are low, players are more likely to be playing for stakes where it doesn't hurt them to lose, making calling even easier.

In no-limit or pot-limit online Texas Holdem games, you can bluff more often when the opportunity is right. The right opportunities include when you are up against only one or two players who are relatively tight, when you suspect a player has been betting to protect a pair and a scare card like a third card of a suit comes, and when a player who has been representing strength suddenly stops betting. As with all decisions in a Texas Holdem strategy, a lot will depend on what you have observed about your opponents up to that point.

When you do bluff in no-limit or pot-limit Texas Holdem games, you have to bluff a realistic amount. A $20 bet into a $200 pot is not a real bluff. It is called a “post oak” bluff, and most players will not only call with a marginal hand, but may even raise you heavily even if they have nothing, sensing your weakness. You must bluff an amount that will put pressure on your opponents. If you cannot do this, you should probably not bluff on that particular Texas Hold’em hand.