There has been much written about bluffing down the years and it is true that anybody can bluff. All you have to do to launch a successful bluff is to be aggressive and then catch your opponent with either a very weak hand or a hand that they will fold. The real skill in bluffing in a game like no limit Texas hold’em terms from the frequency of which you are successful bluffing.
Let us begin by looking at an example, imagine it is folded around to you in the small blind and you decide to open raise to 4bb to win the 1.5bb that is in the pot at that stage. If you raise every time that it gets folded around to you in that situation then you are raising with 100% of the total range of hands that you could possibly raise with.
Clearly then your opponent will not fold 100% of the time because there will be occasions where you will raise and your opponent will either have a premium hand or a playable hand. If they are a very tight player then you could do very well with a raise with any two strategy. But the problem with raising 100% of your range is that it is noticeable to your opponents. Even mediocre players would notice such a blatant strategy and they would then start to play back at you with far less holdings and three betting you would be a major part of their strategy.
So you need to know where to draw the line with regards to your bluffing frequency. This is because when you bluff then you need your opponents to believe you and fold. This is the entire point of bluffing because when you bluff then by sheer definition your hand is weak and you want your opponent to fold. If you are raising instead of betting then you are risking more money than what is already in the pot.
What you need to factor into the equation with regards to bluffing is what your risk reward ratio will be. In this hand example then we raised to 4bb to win the 1.5bb that were in the pot. Clearly then we stood to gain far less than the amount of money that we risked. This makes achieving the proper frequency of vital importance. Now contrast this situation to one where we are playing on the flop in a heads up situation where there are 8.5bb in the pot and our lone opponent checks.
Here we can launch a successful bluff with an amount of money that is less than the pot size because we are betting and not raising with our bluff. We can maybe bet no more than 5bb here to win the 8.5bb that are in the pot and this is a much better risk reward ratio than before.
You often see novice poker players get the act of bluffing hopelessly wrong. Strong no limit Texas hold’em players will begin to call you down much lighter than usual if they suspect that you are bluffing too frequently. Remember that for you to bet on every street then you need to make sure that you are not just doing that with bluffs and powerful holdings otherwise your ranges become polarised.