Bluffing is a big part of any form of poker. For those new to poker, bluffing is when you or someone else bets when they have no hand. Bluffing is easy to do but difficult to execute correctly.
Let's discuss the different types bluff. Yes, there are separate forms of bluffing. The first and most common bluff is what's called a "stone cold bluff". This is when a bet is made with absolutely nothing. You have no outs, no draws and are just taking a stab at the pot in hopes your opponent will fold. It can be very exciting to pull off a bluff of this type and has been made famous by movies and television. However, it is not a very profitable play when used incorrectly.
The next type of bluff would be called a “semi bluff.” This is when you have some sort of draw, such as a flush or straight draw. This type of bluff can be very profitable and is a must for any successful poker player.
Now let's talk about when it is best to attempt these bluffs. The first type, "stone cold bluff," is best used when you believe your opponent has nothing (meaning they are bluffing) and the only chance you have of winning the hand is by bluffing yourself. Since you can't call and hope to hit a draw or hope to have the best hand (since you have nothing yourself) your best option is to fold or bluff. If you have a read on your opponent and suspect they have nothing or a very weak hand, then a bluff could be your best option. Again, this is a skill that takes time to learn and can sometimes be based on instinct or a gut feeling.
The next type of bluff, the "semi bluff," can be used very effectively when in the right situation. Let's say you have a straight draw and are last to act, and your opponent makes a bet. You could call and hope to hit your hand, or you could make a raise. A raise here will serve a few purposes. First, you may win the pot when your opponent folds, which means you win the pot without having to make your hand. If you are called, you still have outs and can still win the pot. As you can see, by semi bluffing you are giving yourself an extra way to win the pot instead of just hoping your card comes on the turn or river.
Another advantage to semi bluffing is that by raising, your opponent may check call and then check the turn since you have shown strength and your opponent will not want to get raised again. You would then have the option of getting a free card on the river by checking the turn. In this scenario, you have given yourself a better chance to make your hand by seeing a free river. If you were to call the flop, your opponent may likely bet the turn and you will be forced to fold if you don't make your hand, since the odds would probably not be correct to make a call.
Bluffs are an important part of any players' tool-box of plays, but when and how to use them is the crucial key. A well-timed bluff can net a big pot. However, a mistimed bluff can cost an entire stack.