Bluffing is one of the more celebrated parts of poker. The ability to win a big pot without having the best hand – or even a good hand – sets poker apart from other strategy games.

Seeing players rip an opponent's heart out by showing a massive bluff can be thrilling. But viewers may also commiserate with the loser in the hand as most have been in that situation.

Buffing is a poker board strategy that most players will deploy at some time or another.

As 17-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth once noted:

“If you never bluff, you'll rarely get called. If you bluff all the time, you'll always get called.”

888poker counts down some massive bluffs, including a few more recent classics, that helped a losing hand scoop in a pile of chips.

1 – Moneymaker Makes History

No list of poker bluffs would be complete without the “bluff of the century” by 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker. After winning an $86 online qualifier, Moneymaker lived the dream and reached the final table. He then found himself facing high-stakes veteran Sammy Farha heads-up for the bracelet.

As the matchup played out, Moneymaker held a chip lead and raised with Ks7h. Farha looked down at Qs9h and called. The flop brought 9s2d6s, and both players checked. The turn brought the 8s, and Farha immediately bet his top pair. Both players now had a flush draw, and Moneymaker also had an open-end straight draw, using a poker term. He put in a hefty raise.

Farha eventually called and saw the 3h land on the river. Farha’s pair of nines were good as Moneymaker missed his draws and only held King high. However , that didn’t slow him down. Farha checked, and Moneymaker announced all-in.

If Farha had called and been wrong, his tournament would have been over.

He eventually folded, and Moneymaker let out a big sigh of relief.

“Sam Farha is not someone you want to bluff lightly, or all that often, but I didn’t think I could beat him without mixing things up a little,” Moneymaker noted in his autobiography. “If I relied on just the cards, I could be here all night. Or I could be out in the next hand.”

The big move paid off. Moneymaker won $2.5 million, made poker history, and set off a boom that would overtake the game for the next decade.

2 – Hustled at the Hustler

The Hustler Live cash game stream has been home to some crazy action in recent years. This hand from 2022 saw poker pro Garrett Adelstein face a three-bet with AsKc after raising the action. He put in a four-bet, $2,200 already in the pot in this $200/$200/$400 action.

With 5c4s, a player named Mikki fired $15,000 after seeing a flop of 10h9hKh. The commentators were shocked and labelled the attempted bluff “a suicide mission”. They noted that “he’s lighting some of these chips on fire.” Perhaps this play was part of some weird 3 card poker strategy!

The bet received a call and the Qd fell on the turn. Mikki barrelled again, this time for $20,000. Adelstein thought a while before making another call.

Would Mikki make it a triple-barrel bluff?

Indeed, he then put out another bet of $60,000 on the river – swelling the pot to more than $160,000. Adelstein went in the tank, talking about the hand and previous hands while Mikki broke out the vape to pass some time.

Adelstein eventually let his winning hand go and Mikki scooped the pot, showing the massive bluff. Adelstein sat anguished as he saw the results. As the commentator noted, Mikki is tricky.

3 – Ivey Targets Matusow

This hand takes players back to the classic Million Dollar Cash Game featuring some big names like Mike Matusow, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Tom Dwan, and others.

Matusow looked down at pocket kings and raised the action. Phil Ivey came along with As4s, and David Benyamine also saw the flop with 3c3s.

With the pot at more than $15,000, the 4c6cJh fell on the flop. Matusow bet $11,000 and received a call only from Ivey after asking how much Matusow had left.

The Jc hit the board on the turn, and both players checked. The 7c came on the river, presenting Matusow with a king-high flush poker hand. Ivey checked, and Matusow looked at his cards before finally betting $15,000 into a pot of $37,800.

Ivey studied a bit and re-raised to $52,000 with no flush, holding bottom pair. Matusow stewed and mumbled, considering whether to make the call.

  • Did Ivey have the Ac for the nut flush?
  • Did he hit a full house?

He continued to consider what to do with the pot, now at more than $100,000. Would he call for another $37,000?

The answer is no, and Ivey didn’t show his hand and claimed to have the Ac. Ivey remains a force in poker, and this bluff shows his courage on the game’s biggest stages.

4 – Hellmuth Hits the Road – Jack!

Poker fans are used to Phil Hellmuth occasionally throwing a tantrum after things don’t quite go his way at the table. That was the case in February 2024 in the No Gamble, No Future cash game.

With five players seeing a flop of 6h5d3s and the pot at more than $13,000, everyone checked around before seeing a Kc on the turn. With KsQh, Hellmuth counted out a bet of $6,000. Charles Yu quickly bumped that up to $26,000, and Hellmuth instantly mucked his hand.

Yu showed Hellmuth the bluff, and the Poker Brat jumped out of his chair. There was no swearing nor tirade this time; he simply exited the game.

5 – Poker Brat Gets Bold

PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel is the place where to play poker in Vegas if you get the chance. The series features two players squaring off in a battle for big bucks. Phil Hellmuth dominated many of the matches in the first few years. In 2022, that included three wins over poker heavyweight Daniel Negreanu.

Hellmuth showed no fear against his opponent in this matchup. Negreanu held pocket deuces in a critical hand and raised the action, only to see Hellmuth three-bet with 8c3c. Not backing down, Negreanu made it a four-bet with $400,000 on the line for the match winner.

The Poker Brat then almost tripled that with a five-bet – all preflop – and Negreanu eventually called. The 10d6sJc on the flop brought an instant check from Hellmuth, and Negreanu made it another 21,000. Hellmuth called again with the pot at 112,000.

The 6c came on the turn, giving Hellmuth a flush draw, and he fired 42,000. Negreanu looked pained while considering his options and trying to figure out his opponent.

He eventually sent his deuces to the muck. Hellmuth checked his phone and collected the pot, satisfied after running a herculean bluff.

Sean Chaffin is a poker writer who appears in numerous websites and publications. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast