• A Math-Based Approach for Bluffing in All Forms of Poker

    Added - Jan. 27, 2014 Poker

    No matter what type of poker you play, bluffing is a major part of the game. A lot of people just bluff more or less when they feel like it, and they don't realize that with a very small amount of math, they could be much more targeted with how and when they decide to bluff. Here we want to show you exactly how bluffing frequencies are calculated, but we also want to provide you with a few shortcuts for common bet sizes so that you don't have to do any mental calculations while at the table.

    The most popular games today are big bet games like no-limit hold'em and pot-limit Omaha. When you're betting pre-flop in these games, you're primarily going to be concerned with stealing the blinds or 3-betting as a bluff. If you're stealing from the small blind, you'll need to divide the amount of extra money you're putting into the pot by the total size of the pot after you make your raise. If you were to raise to a total of $3 in a $0.50/1.00 game, for example, then you would be putting in an extra $2.50 and the pot after you bet would be $4 to give you a value of 2.5/4 = 0.625. If you translate this to a percentage, it tells you how often you need your opponent to fold for your bluff to be profitable.

    If you back up one spot and are stealing from the button, then you'll do the same calculation. However, you'll take the square root of your final total since you're against two different opponents, and this will tell you how often they each have to fold individually. Raising to $5 in a $1/2 game would give you a value of 5/8 = 0.625, and you'd want to take the square root of that to get about 79 percent.

    Post-flop, the same calculation works. You divide your bet by the total pot size after your bet (before the opponent acts) to determine how often you need your opponent to fold. This is assuming you have a pure bluff with no chance to win unless your opponent calls. A half-pot sized bet needs your opponent to fold 33.3 percent of the time, and two-thirds pot sized bet needs 40 percent, and a full pot-sized bet needs a fold rate of at least 50 percent to be profitable.

    Want to learn more about bluffing in poker? If so check out some of the following articles: