The Psychology of Bluffing in Poker
If you’re a poker player then you’ll know that one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal is the bluff. Essentially you’re convincing others at the poker table that you have or have not something that you either do or don’t have. There are few poker strategies that can successfully swing the game more than a successful bluff. The satisfaction of being able to steal the pot from a player who has a much better hand than you is a great feeling.
Nevertheless, if bluffing were very easy then everyone would be doing it. For a successful bluff, you need to have an understanding of a fair bit of psychology. There are no foolproof methods to do this. But hopefully, after looking through this article, you’ll have a better idea of both how to bluff and the consequences that come from a successful bluff in poker. And, more importantly, it’ll help increase your jackpot winning chances.
The Two Purposes of Bluffing in Poker
You have to make your opponent think that you have a better hand than in reality. The other is the reverse. To make another player imagine that your hand is much worse than it is in truth. The psychology of bluffing with both of these situations is more or less the same. Some players find it harder to achieve one than the other. But this is all a state of mind that you should be able to conquer with practice.
Get a Grip Of What’s Going on in Your Head
The key to successful bluffing is being consistent. So it’s important that before you even start to pull a bluff you must have total control of what’s going on in your head. It’s immaterial how many chips are on the table, or the size of the pot. Or what remains of your bankroll. Your brain activity should always be consistent. Keep in mind that when another player sitting opposite looks at you, they shouldn’t have any idea whether you are calm or anxious, afraid or confident. In other words, they should have no idea as to whether you’re bluffing or not.
Try Some Yoga Techniques
Just how successful your bluffing is going to be is entirely up to you and your own self-control. So you need to put yourself in a mental state. One which is a kind of “Poker Nirvana.” But believe us, everything will come down to your own self and mental control. This may sound rather like advice from a hippy. Yet you need to find your mental centre and be focused on that. Some players like to listen to music to help them reach that goal. Some use yoga techniques, in particular deep breathing. Others rely on numbers, in that they run the probabilities and keep replaying the same handover and over in their head. The whole point of all these exercises is to give an illusion. That is in an anxious and chaotic situation, you are totally calm and in control.
In some ways, you need to get to the point where everything is exactly the same. So that any other emotion you might show when you’re sitting at the casino poker table is mute. In the same way that you will make a choice when it comes to raising, calling or folding. Then you need to be able to make exactly the same choices and in exactly the same manner when it comes to pulling off a successful bluff. So be mindful of your body language and how you carry yourself. Having said this, these factors don’t matter if you’re playing online. We love to go to 32Red Poker for a huge variety of poker variants. Plus they offer all new players a fantastic welcome bonus of 200% up to €1000!
Learn To Project Confidence
As we previously mentioned, consistency is the key. You don’t want your actions to appear as if you are trying to do something unnatural. That’s why it’s important that you project the person you wish to be. We suggest that you find a comfortable stance and carry this through at all times when you’re sitting at the poker table. One common way of doing this is to simply project confidence. You want others to think that you are totally in control of the situation at hand.
What’s interesting is that if you try to project confidence then this in itself will help you to be more confident. To put it in plain English, “fake it until you make it.” So if you approach the jackpot games table acting as if you own the casino, then you may start to believe it yourself. By giving yourself a psychological boost you will be able to go forward with greater confidence. This is one of the secrets of winning at poker.
Or Conversely, Project Nothing
There is another approach that suggests that you should project nothing. In other words, both your face and demeanour should be a completely blank slate. If you look at many jackpot poker games on the television, you’ll see them wearing hoodies, sunglasses and listening to music. In other words, they’re doing everything other than interacting with the table. Although this may seem both cold and distant, it’s not a bad plan as you are giving away nothing. This is the infamous “poker face.”
For some players, the psychology of projecting confidence is huge work and very stressful. So to project nothing for them is a better tactic. Because you’re focusing on not showing anything then you will not be thinking about your bluff or whether or not it will succeed. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to project blankness all the time. If you want to confuse the table, then simply flick this behaviour on and off as you would an electrical appliance. Another common thing we see is that whilst the game is in play, you project nothing. And yet when there are no chips on the line, you are very chatty and normal.
The Physiological Challenges of Bluffing
Why are these two opposite approaches to rejection so important? Well, it’s simple. Telling a lie, even a silent one, is going to stress the body. Due to this, it will go through a set of physical reactions. These include a raised pulse, a reddening of the face, the hands may shake and breathing rate may increase and your pupils will dilate. The problem here is that the body cannot differentiate between you telling a lie in the form of bluffing or you being attacked by a wild animal. The “fight or flight” instinct comes into play whether we want it or not.
But the ability to keep mental control is of paramount importance. We suggest that, as part of your jackpot winning strategies, you spend time at home training yourself into projecting both confidences, or conversely, projecting nothing. If you do this often enough, then, is a form of muscle memory, the brain will recognise these patterns and start to go with the flow. You’ll then find projecting whatever state of mind you wish to convey to your opponents much more natural and easier. In fact, being able to remain calm under pressure, will also help you play poker online. Head over to 32Red Poker to see how cool you can remain under pressure. You can even use their “free-play” in order to practice without spending a penny.
Psych Yourself To Calmness
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you can feel that your bluffing strategy is slipping away. In times like these, you need to be able to psych yourself into a state of calm. It’s the opposite of what you’ll often see when people are stressed and start to psych themselves up into a state of anger or frenzy. Obviously, in a game of poker, this is not going to function very well. What you need to do is to concentrate on an inner narrative that will help you to calm your mind and free your body from stress.
For many people, this can be a piece of music, a mantra, a favourite phrase or even some lines from the script of your favourite movie. But whatever you use, it should act as a trigger. One to snap you back into a state where you are no longer giving things away about your intentions. Once again, this will need a considerable amount of practice away from the gaming table. This way, as the pot gets bigger and the piles of chips get larger, you will be able to take yourself into a higher level of calmness. Then you can bluff away to your heart’s content. No one will be able to spot your well-hidden poker tells.