MCU poker tip: If you’re bluffing, don’t move

I teach that your poker opponents have a calling reflex. They came to your poker game hoping to be in action and hoping to call bets.

They have a deep bias against folding. So, anything you do is apt to look suspicious and give them a reason to call.


We’ve previously talked about deliberately triggering this calling reflex when you have a strong hand. You can jitter, wiggle, talk, or seem animated. This gives them reasons to call. Fine.

But the opposite is also true. If you’re bluffing, it’s usually a mistake to be animated. The more things you do, the more suspicious they become, and the more apt you are to be called.

The trick

Actually, most poker opponents instinctively realize the truth in this. They freeze after bluffing, particularly if you seem to be in the process of calling. They’re attempting to avoid making you suspicious, almost as if trying not to draw the attention of a poisonous snake in the pathway who might strike anything that moves.

Sudden absence of motion is a powerful indication that an opponent is more likely to be bluffing — a major tell. By the way, you should generally not worry about broadcasting the same tells as your opponents. Usually, they’re oblivious to the fact that the same things they do to deceive other players can be used against them.


The secret to how you should conduct yourself when you bluff is to do what most opponents do — be as unnoticeable as possible. But don’t be too rigid or your opponent might consider that suspicious in itself. The trick is to be as inconspicuous as possible without overdoing it. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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