MCU poker tip: A quick bluff is more likely to succeed

Of course, there are exceptions, but on average…

If you bluff fairly quickly — without pondering — you’ll succeed in stealing the pot more often than if you hesitate and seem unsure.

I was able to further support this theory by programming my artificially intelligent Orac poker player in 1984. I learned while testing that opponents were much more likely to fold against fast bets than against pondered ones — against a computer!

But, wait! There’s a difference between how opponents relate to computers that bluff and how they relate to you. In either case, if you hesitate too long, you’re more likely to be called. But, for a computer, an instant bluff works, because people think its decision must be obvious, thus implying a strong hand.

A rule for limiting suspicion

But a human betting instantly is likely to cause suspicion. Opponents are always looking for reasons to call and anything can trigger what I term their “calling reflex.” Betting too quickly can trigger it. And betting after a noticeable delay can trigger it, too.

A good solution is my two-and-a-half second rule for successful bluffing. That seems to be the perfect timing that results in the fewest calls.

Actually, in no-limit games you might take a little longer, because opponents are accustomed to seeing extended time used for decisions. But, even in no-limit games, I would not take more than four seconds to bluff. And, whether the game is no-limit or limit, don’t bluff instantly.

Timing your bluff is important! — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mikecaro FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/caro.mike Known as the "Mad Genius of Poker," Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority of poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full biography at Poker1.com.

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  1. I find that a good bluffing situation is also a good trapping situation. If everyone checks and I have a monster, I take a long time, look back at my cards several times, do my best to look nervous and grab a big stack of chips. Then I seem to reconsider and only bet maybe two or three times the BB. Then look down and refuse to meet the eye of any other player. More often than not, somebody raises. Then I can 3 bet with confidence.

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