Best Online Texas Holdem Rooms
- Poker Site Ranking Bonus Score ReviewPlay
- 1. Pacific Poker £ 8 9.4 Review Play
- 2. Titan Poker $2000 9.3Review Play
- 3. Victor Chandler €10009.2 Review Play
- 4. PokerStars $600 9.2 Review Play
- 5. Bwin Poker $500 9.2 Review Play
- Poker Site Ranking Bonus Score ReviewPlay
- 6. Ladbrokes £259.2 Review Play
- 7. William Hill €12509.0 Review Play
- 8. Intertops $600 8.7 Review Play
- 9. PKR 3D Poker $800 8.6 Review Play
- 10. Cake Poker $500 8.5 Review Play
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Online Texas Holdem
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TEXAS HOLDEM BASICS
- Texas holdem fundamentals
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Without bluffing, poker wouldn’t exist. It is both not knowing what your opponents’ cards are and being able to bluff that makes poker interesting. If everyone bet the same way based on their hand, we’d know what everyone’s cards were and the game wouldn’t be fun (if a player has a strong hand and raises, everybody would fold since they know what her hand is). But by being able to bluff, you never know what your opponents have in their hand. This uncertainty is a vital feature of the game.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you should bluff on a regular basis! If there is one thing you need to know about bluffing is that it is an art and you should do it infrequently. Beginner players typically bluff too much and lose a lot of money in the process. However, not bluffing is also a way to lose money as players will fold if you raise since they know you don’t bluff and your hand must be strong.
Bluffing is when you act on your hand in a way that is contrary to the strength of your hand. One version of bluffing is when you bet heavily or raise when you have a weak or average hand to give the other players the impression that you have a strong hand in the hopes it will make everyone fold, thus leaving only you to win the pot. This is the type of bluffing most people know about.
You can also bluff to look like you’re holding a weak hand. Why would you do this? If you want to win a nice big pot, which is the main goal in poker, you need people in the hand to contribute chips. Don’t raise aggressively right from the beginning or you’ll scare the players into folding too soon. Instead, call the bets on the first two betting rounds so the other players think you have a weak or average hand, and then raise on the third and even more aggressively on the fourth. By calling on the first two rounds, you don’t tip off your opponents how strong your hand is and you’re able to keep them in the game longer to contribute more chips to the pot.
One advantage to bluffing is being able to win a pot with a weak hand. The other is that it can establish you as an unpredictable player, which is an excellent strategy. You’ll win more money over the long-run if other players have a hard time figuring out how you play. In fact, some people who have successfully bluffed everybody into folding will show their cards on purpose (even though there isn’t a showdown since they’re the only player left) just to let everyone know they bluff. If you have a strong hand and wager heavily, they won’t know with 100% certainty that you have a strong hand since they know you also bluff – they might stay in the hand longer because of this, which will produce a bigger pot.
You need to think about the following factors before bluffing:
1. PLAYER ABILITY
Bluffing works when you’re playing against players whom have enough experience to know that a raise could indicate a strong hand, which will make them fold. If you’re playing against a beginner, they might not recognize that and not fold when they should. The only way to win the pot when bluffing with a weak hand is when everyone folds, so if beginners don’t understand the game that well, don’t try to bluff them because they’ll probably stay in the hand until the showdown and you might not win the pot.
2. NUMBER OF ACTIVE PLAYERS
Since you need everyone to fold in order to win when bluffing, you’ll have the best chance of winning if there are only a few active players left. If the table has a lot of players, it will be very difficult to get everyone to fold. The fewer the number of people at the table, the better your chances are of successfully bluffing. See the table below:
# OF ACTIVE PLAYERS
ODDS OF WINNING BLUFF
Where you’re sitting in relation to the dealer can impact your decision to bluff or not. If you’re the big blind, you were forced to bet without having seen your cards yet, so the other players have no information to work with about your hand and have no idea what you’re holding. You can use this to your advantage by betting and raising heavily (regardless of your hand) after the flop’s been dealt so your opponents think you scored big on the flop and fold (or raise on the turn and river to keep people in a little longer if you think you can get them to fold before the showdown).
The best place to bluff is in late position if nobody has raised before you and there are one or two active players. By being the last to act, you have the advantage of acting on your hand after watching the other players’ actions, giving you some idea of what they’re holding – if it seems like nobody has an especially strong hand, as mentioned above, raise after the flop or turn, and even stronger on the river if there are players left to bluff into folding.
4. POT SIZE AND POT ODDS
In Limit Texas Holdem games, the size of the pot should influence your decision to bluff or not, in addition to the pot odds. There is a more detailed description of pot odds on the pot odds page, but the following is a basic explanation of how they influence your decision to bluff or not.
You compare the pot odds to your hand’s odds: bluff if the pot odds are greater than your hand odds. If they’re equal, don’t bluff – you’ll only break even in the long-run.
If the pot has five bets in it and your hand has a 1 in 5 chance of winning, on average, you’ll lose four times and win once. That single win will cover the cost of the four loses and the cost of playing the fifth game, so you won’t make any money playing this way.
In order to win money, you’re better off bluffing when there are more bets in the pot to cover the lost bets, the cost of the current bet and extra for profit. If there are less bets than to break even, don’t bluff that hand as in the long-run, your bankroll will decrease.
Pots of little value are easy to bluff, particularly if the other players aren’t beginners and are calculating the pot odds. If the pot is small, call on the flop, call or bet on the turn, and then raise heavily on the river if the pot is still quite small. Again, if people are calculating the odds, they’ll know an expensive wager for a small pot isn’t worth it and don’t want to waste their money.
These pots usually are the doing of average players (because good players with strong hands would have the pot much higher) who will most likely call your bluff. That said, unless you’re playing against just one other player, don’t bother bluffing medium-sized pots because you’ll have a hard time getting all of the players to fold.
Bluffing large pots is the dream of any player and you shouldn’t be afraid of doing it, but be warned: if you’re playing against experienced players who might be calculating the pot odds, they’ll probably call a large pot to the showdown. Don’t bluff large pots with these people.
5. STAKES AND BETTING STRUCTURE
Beginner players, whom, as already mentioned, tend to call more hands than they should, usually play Limit games with lower stakes, so don’t bluff at those tables unless you’re trying to establish yourself as an unpredictable player. It’s also cheaper to call at those tables, so even more people are going to stay until the showdown. You’re better off bluffing at No-Limit and Pot-Limit tables with medium and higher stakes. Typically, the higher the stakes, the better the players, and they’re the ones who are going to take notice of a heavy raise. Also, with higher stakes making it more expensive to stay in the game, people are more likely to fold than to call to the end.
Home games, low-stakes casino tables and other casual atmospheres are not the best places to bluff as players are more interested in having a good time and will call more hands to stay in the game. You might find that some players will fold when confronted with a heavy raise on the river, though, so don’t totally omit bluffing in these environments. Free tables online have a lot of beginner players, so they might stay in hands they should have folded and won’t recognize that they should fold to your high raise.
7. BLUFFING TOO MUCH
A sure sign of a beginner player is someone who bluffs too much. Inexperienced players guilty of this will lose more chips in the long-run. It also reduces bluffing’s effectiveness if other players realized you overbluff since they’ll call more of your bluffs.
8. WHEN TO BLUFF
A. Winning Streak
Players are intimidated by people who are on a roll and win several hands in quick succession. If you’ve just come off a hot streak, now’s a good time to squeeze a bluff in as some people might think you have all the luck that night and will fold if they see you raise.
B. The Flop Didn’t Help Anybody
If players’ pre-flop betting indicated they held high cards and the flop is mostly low cards, then obviously nobody scored a good hand on the flop. If you bet or start raising, you might be able to trick people into thinking you made an excellent hand and scare them into folding.
C. Ace-King Suited
If you’re holding these cards, you probably bet heavily pre-flop and played the hand strong to the turn. Even if you don’t have a good hand by the river, an aggressive raise on the river, depending on your situation, might get the other players to fold.
D. When a Pair Shows Up on the Turn
If nobody bet heavily after the flop and a pair is dealt on the turn, it’s a great time to bluff since the players might think you have a three of a kind. You already know nobody has that hand since they would have bet heavily after the flop when the first card in the pair was on the board.
9. WHEN NOT TO BLUFF
A. An Ace Shows Up on the Flop
People love having aces in their hand and tend to call just to see if another ace shows up. If one appears on the flop, and if there’s a player with an ace, there’s a good chance they’ll call to the end in case they get a third ace on the river.
B. A Jack or 10 Shows Up on the Flop
Good starting hands include high-ranking cards of consecutive suit. If either a jack or 10 appears on the flop, you shouldn’t bluff as there’s a chance the people who stayed in the game to see the flop might have said high-ranking cards of consecutive suit – a jack or a 10 puts them just two cards away from a straight.
C. Somebody Raises Before the Flop
A pre-flop raise is usually a sign of a strong hand (perhaps high pocket pairs like K-K or A-A). Don’t waste your chips bluffing on this hand as that player will call, or even raise, your bet.
10. HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR OPPONENT IS BLUFFING
A. Failed Draw to a Flush
If the flop showed two cards of the same suit and a player bet heavily, they might have two cards of the same suit in their hand and are hoping to make a flush. But if the turn and river cards don’t make the flush and the player tries to bet heavily and raise, it could be a sign they’re bluffing since their flush didn’t happen.
B. Failed Draw to a Straight
In the same vein as failing to make a flush, if two consecutive cards (or two non-consecutive cards that could be used in a straight) appear on the flop and a player wagers heavily, but unrelated cards appear on the turn and river, if that player raises aggressively on the river, they’re probably bluffing.
Try PokerStars.com to practice bluffing if you’ve never done it before. They have free tables so it won’t cost you a dime to play Texas Holdem. They’re one of the longest-operating online poker rooms in the world and have earned an excellent reputation for customer service, security and an all-round excellent online poker experience.
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