Published: 31/05/2011 09:00 - Updated: 18/04/2012 16:36

10 telltale signs that a poker player is bluffing

SOME of the best poker games are those in which contestants are prepared to bluff; it is a high risk, high reward method of playing, but it certainly enlivens a game.

So, how do the best poker players know when you are bluffing?

Outlined below are 10 telltale signs that someone is attempting a bluff.

1. Raising quickly pre and post flop

If a player puts in a big raise before the flop and another big raise after it, this could be a bluff. People like to drive up the pot early to scare other players out and increase their chances of winning.

2. Chatter

A player who bluffs may well suddenly decide that this is the time to draw attention away from their lowly hand by chatting about things. If a player is dealt a hand, places a big bet and starts chatting away, this can be a sign they are trying to distract you from the hand they have.

3. Check their playing style and betting patterns

Top players are aware that if they play poker to a formula, then other players will quickly learn, understand this and be able to bluff them. Many novice players will play poker to a formula so that, once you understand their playing style and betting pattern, it’s easy to deduce when they are bluffing.

4. A big bet after a long pause for thought post-flop

A player with a mixed hand, who does not get a decent flop, needs to check the status of their hand. If they do and a big bet follows, this is a potential sign of a bluff, especially if they have plenty of chips committed to the pot.

5. Impatience

If a player is on a losing streak in a game and their stack is diminishing, they will become impatient. This can lead them to making a bluff to try and recoup some of their losses. Watch how players play: if they stay in for more hands than usual and try bigger bets after a losing streak, they might well be bluffing.

6. A player going all-in pre-flop, especially if they have a small stack.

A pre-flop “all in” is a gamble. For sure, they may have A A and a small stack, but in many cases they won’t and they will bluff in an attempt to snatch the pot, or in the hope the flop will be kind to them and unkind to their opponents.

7. A big bet after the player has just lost to a bluff

If a player has lost a previous hand to a bluff, then expect them to try and bounce back with a bluff of their own shortly afterwards. A big bet after they have just lost a big pot to a bluff could well be a sign of them trying their own.

8. Playing aggressively all the time

No poker player gets great hands all the time, but some amateurs like to bet big and play aggressively. It may frighten some people off, but by calling their bluff with a good hand of your own, you can take them down easily.

9. Encouraging you to bet via chat

A bluffer may well encourage bets against them in an attempt at reverse psychology, writing messages in chat to encourage people to call or raise their bet; in the hope they will think it is a trick and fold. Let the strength of your hand, rather than their words, dictate how you deal with this attempt at bluffing.

10. The new player who makes a huge bet first hand

If a new player joins the table and the first hand they play makes a huge bet; this could be a sign of a bluff. Players like this often just want to collect as many chips as possible and will enter a room, bet big, hope they win and leave again. If you have the cards in your hand, call their bluff and take them down.

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