One of the toughest things for Texas holdem players of every experience level
to master is bluffing.
It’s difficult to figure out how to bluff without doing it too often, because
if you bluff too many times your opponents will start calling more often. But if
you don’t bluff enough you miss out on potential profits.
The biggest problem with learning about bluffing in holdem is each situation
is unique. The way the hand plays out, the stack sizes, your opponent’s playing
ability, and your table image all change from one situation to the next,
creating a situation where you have to decide what the most profitable play is
in just a few seconds each time.
We’ve built the following quiz questions in a way that you can learn the best
answer for each individual situation, but you can also learn how each decision
was reached in the explanation in the answers. If you understand the thought
process behind each decision it helps you learn how to make the decisions on
The first section has all of the quiz questions and the answers are all found
in the section below the first one. Grab a pen and paper and jot down your
choices as you read the questions and make a note about why you think your
answer is the best choice. Then compare your notes with the explanations in the
Here’s a secret to keep in mind while you take the quiz. Not every situation
has a 100% correct answer. A few of them have two choices that can be correct
and others are close to a coin flip. See if you can figure out which ones are
cut and dried and which ones possibly have more than one possible correct
Quiz Question 1
You’re playing in a no limit Texas holdem game and reach the river and have
missed your draw. Both you and your single opponent have deep stacks, the pot
has $1,000 in it, and the only way you can win the hand is if your opponent
folds. You’re first to act; what do you do?
Check and fold to a bet
Check and raise all in if your opponent bets
Move all in
Quiz Question 2
You’re in the same situation as quiz question 1 and you know your opponent is
an excellent player. What do you do?
Check and fold to a bet
Check and raise all in if your opponent bets
Move all in
Quiz Question 3
You’re in the same situation as quiz question 1 and know your opponent is not very good. What do you do?
Check and fold to a bet
Check and raise all in if your opponent bets
Move all in
Quiz Question 4
You’re playing the river on a no limit Texas holdem hand where you’ve been
leading the betting after hitting a set on the flop. After you bet on the river
your opponent suddenly raises after calling up to this point. You don’t have the
nut set but the board doesn’t allow a flush or straight. Both you and your
opponent have deep stacks. After the raise of $200 the pot has $1,000 in it.
What do you do?
Move all in
Quiz Question 5
You’re in the same situation as quiz question 4 and your opponent is a great
player. What do you do?
Move all in
Quiz Question 6
You’re in the same situation as quiz question 4 and your opponent is a poor
player. What do you do?
Move all in
Quiz Question 7
You’re playing in a $10 / $20 limit Texas holdem game and have top pair with
a medium kicker on the river. The pot has $110 before the river and your only
remaining opponent bets $20. What do you do?
Quiz Question 8
How often should you bluff on the river in Texas holdem cash games?
Roughly 5% of the time
Roughly 10% of the time
Roughly 25% of the time
Quiz Question 9
In comparison to the amount of times you should be bluffing in Texas holdem
cash games, how often should you bluff in Texas holdem tournaments?
Quiz Question 10
You’re playing in a no limit Texas holdem game and you flop top pair with a
draw to the nut straight. Both of your opponents have checked to you and you’re
last to act on the betting round. The pot has $100 in it and you have a $100
stack. What do you do?
Move all in
Quiz Answer 1
The first thing to think about is the only way you can win is if your
opponent folds. The only way your opponent can fold is fi you bet. This makes it
seem like the answer has to be to make a bet of some kind.
But the answer requires a closer inspection than simply saying you have to
make a bet. If you make a bet you have to try to figure out how often it’ll make
your opponent fold and compare that to the amount you have to risk and how much
you can win.
This is a difficult determination because you don’t know how strong your
opponent’s hand is and how often they’ll fold for sure. If they have a weak hand
and you make a large raise the odds are strong that they’ll fold. But if they
have a strong hand you’ll simply lose more money by making a large bet.
If you decide to bet you need to determine the least amount you can risk that
gives you the leverage needed to make your opponent fold. One mistake
inexperienced players make is over betting when they bluff. Often a smaller bet
accomplishes the same thing as a large bet.
Let’s look at the math behind the different amounts you can bet.
If you bet $1,000 into the pot of $1,000 you have to get your opponent to
fold half the time to break even. When your opponent calls you lose $1,000 and
when you win you win the $1,000 in the pot. So if they fold over half the time
you win more than you lose in the long run.
When you move all in you have to win more than half the time. The exact
percentage of time you must win depends on the size if your stack, but the
important thing to know in this situation is if an opponent will fold to an all
in bet they’ll also fold to a bet of $1,000. So there’s no need to risk more.
The next option is to raise $500. If you bet $500 you have to win at least
25% of the time, or get them to fold at least one out of every four times. You
risk less and reduce the number of times your opponent must fold to be
profitable. Consider that $500 is still a large bet, applying a great deal of
pressure on your opponent. It’s probably not 100% of the time, but most of the
time a bet of $500 will work as well as a higher amount, so it’s a better option
than betting $1,000 or moving all in.
A bet of $100 will be called more often than the other bets we’ve covered,
but you only need to be successful one out of every 10 times to break even. Ask
yourself the following question.
If you bet $100 what are the chances that your opponent folds at least 10% of
Without knowing more about your opponent it’s difficult to predict this with
100% accuracy, but from experience most players know that they’ll fold over 10%
of the time. This makes a $100 bet look like the sweet spot where you risk the
lowest amount while having the chance to win the most money.
However, you need to look at this from the other side as well. What if you’re
sitting in the other seat and your opponent bets $100. You only have to beat
them 10% of the time, or one out of every 10 hands, in order to make a call
correct. So if you have any playable hand, even as low as second or third pair,
you need to call a bet of 10% of the pot.
So what’s the correct answer?
Sadly, the answer is it depends. You’ll learn more about how to play this
situation based on the ability of your opponent in the next two answers, but a
bet of $100 in this situation is best if you don’t know anything about your
opponent. But checking and folding is a close second, and if you played the hand
this way you won’t change your overall results much.
Quiz Answer 2
Many Texas holdem players assume if your opponent in this situation is an
excellent player that a larger bet is better. This is completely opposite of the
most profitable play.
A good holdem player is more likely to recognize a large bet as a bluff
because they understand that a player with a winning hand is trying to make a
bet the perfect size to get a call. Against a good player a bet of $1,000 or all
in probably isn’t going to be profitable in the long run.
If your opponent is considerably better than you it’s almost impossible to
play this situation profitably. In this case, most of the time you should check
and fold to a bet, because any amount you put into the pot will probably cost
you more money.
But, betting $100 is the recommended play against a good player. Good players
tend to think through every situation and often they try to make plays that make
them appear clever. Most good players will talk themselves into folding at least
10% of the time in this situation, thinking that they’ve saved a $100 bet
against a big hand.
This is a tricky situation, in part created by playing a hand out of position
against a good player.
When your opponent folds, you need to act a little disappointed to help them
think they made a good play. Don’t overdo it, and never show your cards, but if
you reinforce that they made a good lay down it helps you in the future. But if
you get them to lay down a hand for $100 here don’t go back to that well in the
But if you hit a big hand against them soon you should play it the same way.
The odds of them laying down a hand twice in a row in this situation aren’t
good, so if the first one works you may be able to get a call later with a good
Quiz Answer 3
With everything you know by reading the answers to the first two quiz
questions it may lead you to believe that against a poor player the best bet is
either $1,000 or all in. But once again this isn’t the best play.
Poor Texas holdem players are unpredictable and one of the biggest issues is
they don’t know enough to recognize when they should or shouldn’t do something.
A bad holdem player will never consider a $100 bet as a possible trap, so
they’ll probably call almost every time. It turns out that this is the correct
play on their part, but they don’t make the play because they understand it’s
best. They see the big pot of $1,000 and only have to risk $100 for a chance to
win it so they call.
But if you want to be a winning player you have to take advantage of poor
players as often as possible, because it’s harder to beat good players.
This leaves the option to bet $500 or check. If you check and a poor player
bets you need to fold. They’ve committed more to the pot instead of checking, so
the odds are strong that they have at least a hand that they plan to play to the
end. If they’re weak and you check they’re going to check behind you because
they’re scared you’ll raise their bet.
A $500 bet is dangerous, but it’s enough in most situations to get a poor
player with a weak hand to fold. This wins you the pot enough times to make it
profitable in the long run in most games, but it’s quite frustrating when a
player calls this bet with a pair and beats you.
This once again illustrates how playing out of position creates tough
situations. If the bad player has to act first you’re in a much stronger
Quiz Answer 4
Folding is out of the question because the odds are good that you have the
winning hand. A call is the safest play and you’ll win the hand more than enough
to make a call profitable.
But you’re in the game to maximize your wins and minimize your losses, so you
need to determine if a call is more profitable in the long run than making a
The danger in raising $200 or $400 is it forces you to make another decision
if your opponent moves all in. If you’re short stacked the correct play is to
move all in, placing the tough decision back on your opponent.
Let’s consider the likely hands your opponent may hold. The only hands that
beat you are higher sets. In a situation where you have middle or higher set and
an opponent hits a higher one it’s difficult to get away from the hand. Many
players feel that in this situation they need to get as much money in the pot as
possible because the times you have the winning set more than make up for the
few times an opponent has a higher set.
Your opponent may have a smaller set than you, may have two pair, may have
top pair, or may be bluffing. This shows that most of the time you still have
the best hand.
Winning Texas holdem players don’t play in fear.
If you just call in this situation you’re clearly playing in fear. So the
best play is to make a raise. You just need to determine the amount to raise
that gives you the best chance to win the most money.
A $400 raise is the best play in this situation because if your opponent will
call $200 they’ll almost always call $400.
If your opponent raises all in you have to figure out the pot odds and
compare them to the chances that your opponent has a higher set. Each situation
is different based on the exact stack sizes and what you know about your
opponent, but most of the time you’re going to have to grit your teeth an make
the call. You’ll lose every once in a while to a higher set, but most of the
time you’re going to win this hand.
Quiz Answer 5
A great player in this situation doesn’t really change their possible range
of hands. At first glance this looks like a situation where your opponent is
bluffing at the pot because they know it’s the only way they can win.
But if you raise and then they raise all in it’s much more likely they have a
set. The question at that point is if their set is better than yours. But they
also may have sensed weakness in your play, convincing them they can get you to
lay down your hand.
The way you’ve played the hand could easily be the same as you play a hand
with top pair, so a great player will often take a shot at making you lay it
But at the end of the day the best way to play the hand is the same as in the
last quiz answer.
You’ll still get called by weaker hands enough to make up for
the few times they have a better set.
If you bet $400 and they move all in you have one of the toughest situations
you’ll ever face, but you still need to call in most situations, just like the
Quiz Answer 6
Against a bad holdem player the hand is somewhat simpler to play. You want to
get as much money in the pot as possible because the poor player is going to
make a bad decision most of the time, leading to higher profits for you. The odd
are the raise they made was a terrible play so no matter how you play the hand
other than folding is profitable.
The best play is between raising $400 and moving all in. If you raise $400
and they move all in you need to call every time. They’ll have a better set
occasionally but most of the time they’re going to have a smaller set or two
pair. Folding against a bad player in this situation is something you just can’t
do unless you’re 100% sure they have a better set. And we all know that knowing
100% is impossible unless you can see their cards.
A $400 bet is probably the best play, but it’s close because they bad player
will call an all in bet with many hands you beat. The only thing you can do is
use what you know about the player and the hand to make the best decision. Try
to determine the chances they call each bet and compare that to the total amount
you win when they call. Then make the play that shows the best average win per
The pot has $1,000 in it and you have $1,200 in your stack and your opponent
has about the same. If you make a $400 raise you put the $200 call in and the
$400 raise, making a pot of $1,600. If your opponent calls the pot is $2,000.
If you move all in the pot is $2,200 and if your opponent calls the pot is
Because your goal is to get as much in the pot as possible we ignore the
chance of winning. You’re winning percentage is going to be high enough that
both situations are profitable.
To simplify things we start with the assumption your opponent will call 100%
of the time with a $400 raise. We know they won’t, but the reason we can assume
that is because if they fold to a $400 bet they’ll fold to an all in bet. This
assumption makes it easier to determine the best way to get more money in the
pot including your opponent’s call.
In order for the all in bet to be as profitable as the $400 bet your opponent
has to call the all in bet 68.75% of the time they call the $400 bet. You
determine this by multiplying the $2,200 you win with a $400 bet times 100 and
getting $220,000. You then divide by the $3,200 you win with the all in move and
this gives you the number of times out of 100 the all in bet must be called to
be the same as the $400 bet. This is easily converted to a percentage by moving
the decimal two places.
You use this percentage to make the best play based on your guess as to how
often your opponent makes the call. If you think they call the all in bet more
than 68.75% of the time you move all in. If you think they call the all in less
than 68.75% of the time you make the $400 bet.
Quiz Answer 7
This is strictly a pot odds question and the answer is you always call. We’ll
get into the math shortly, but the key is you’re the last person to act so
nothing happens after you make the call. And top pair will win enough to make
the play correct.
After your opponent’s bet the pot has $130 in it and you have to risk $20 to
see if you win. This means when you win you get $150 and when you lose you get
nothing. An easy way to see how this works out over time is look at the numbers
if you play the exact same situation 100 times.
In this case if you play the hand 100 times your total cost is $2,000. To see
how often you have to win to break even divide $2,000 by $150. This gives us
13.33 times. In other words if you win the hand 14 out of 100 times the play is
profitable. This is only 14% of the time, and this is why you have to make the
When you determine pot odds you never consider the money you put in the pot
earlier in the hand. You must determine pot odds on the current situation only.
Of course you should do the same thing on every part of the hand, so hopefully
you used the proper pot odds calculations to reach the current situation.
The reason this is important concerning the hand in the quiz question is
because the truth is you do have money invested in the pot. This is enough to
tilt a play in favor of making the call if the overall percentages are close.
This means that even if you don’t think you’ll win the hand 14% of the time
if you can win it 10% or more you should still make the call. In this example
there’s little doubt you’ll win over 14% of the time, but some situations are
closer so keep in mind that often close is close enough when you’re the last
person to act.
This changes quite a bit if one or more players can still act after you. If
you call and one or more players behind you raises it change the pot odds
calculations quite a bit. More opponents also make the likelihood of your top
pair hand being good considerably less.
With players to act behind you the best play changes to folding.
Quiz Answer 8
Whenever you see a Texas holdem question and one of the possible answers is
it depends, the safe bet is to pick it as the answer. The real answer is
probably somewhere between 5% and 10% of the time, but every bluffing situation
depends on many factors. So setting a generic percentage of the time you should
bluff is both dangerous and incorrect.
So the answer is it depends on the chances of the bluff succeeding in
comparison to the amount you can win, the ability of your opponent, how the hand
has played out, the size of the stacks of each player involved, your table
image, and many other small but important things.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re not a winning Texas holdem player
you’re probably bluffing too much. Even break even and players who win a little
over time generally bluff too much. So the first thing you need to do is bluff
less. Start tracking how often you bluff and then start bluffing has as much as
you do now.
Then track your results for a month or two and then reduce the number of
times you bluff again. Keep doing this and tracking the results until they stop
You can also get a feel for how often you’re bluffing by how often you get
called. Some situations give a bluff a better chance to work than others, but
generally if you get called often while bluffing you need to bluff less. If you
almost never get called when you bluff you need to bluff more.
Finding the perfect balance is almost impossible because of the changing
situations, but the best players recognize the places that have the best chance
of a bluff being successful and rarely bluff otherwise.
If you watch Texas holdem on television it often seems like the professional
players bluff all of the times, but you only see the exciting hands. All of the
boring hands have been edited out, making it look like bluffs happen more often
ta they actually do.
Many inexperienced players have found if they simply stop bluffing in any
situation their results instantly improve. Once they play for several months
without bluffing they start bluffing a miniscule percentage of the time to make
sure they don’t overdo it. This is an excellent strategy and one we highly
recommend for all players who aren’t winning on a regular basis.
The fact is that the best players do bluff.
You don’t want to play forever without bluffing, but doing it less than an optimal number of times is better
than doing it too much.
This doesn’t include semi bluffs. This is only straight bluffs where you
generally can’t win unless your opponent folds. Semi bluffing should be used
regularly as a way to increase the value of your bets and to remain aggressive
at the Texas holdem poker table. Semi bluff bets are profitable in the long run,
so if you’re losing in too many hands where you make these plays you need to
evaluate your hands when making these bluffs.
You’ll lose some semi bluffing opportunities but they’re one of the most
powerful tools in your holdem tool box. Learn how and when to use them and use
Quiz Answer 9
Texas holdem tournaments are different than cash games because you have a
strictly limited amount of chips. In a tournament you have to protect every
single chip because you can’t just dig more money out of your pocket.
Some tournaments have re-buy periods in the early rounds, but after the
re-buy period ends the available chips are limited to what you have and what you
In general you need to bluff less in tournaments because of this, because you
can’t afford to lose chips if you get called.
Of course you can still find situations in tournaments that
have a high chance of success for a bluff.
The best places to bluff in a Texas holdem tournament are when you have a
large stack than an opponent, and when the opponent isn’t pot committed. When a
player gets short stacked they become pot committed so when you try to bluff
they call, even if it looks like they’re beat.
The best tournament players avoid situations where they have to consider
bluffing as much as possible and don’t bluff often. If you find yourself in many
bluffing situations during a tournament you need to take a step back and
evaluate your overall game and skills.
Quiz Answer 10
At this point in the hand you may be ahead or behind, but the only two
options are to check to see a free card on the turn or move all in. The good
thing is even if you don’t have the best hand you stand a good chance to improve
if you make a bet and get called.
The other thing that comes into play is the size of your stack. You really
need to decide at this point whether you’re going to commit to the hand or get
out. In the long run you’ll make money by staying in the hand.
The only answer
is to move all in.
If you make a bet that’s less than all in you’re pot committed so you can’t
afford to old even if an opponent raises you all in. Whenever you’re in a
situation where you’re pot committed if an opponent bets you need to be the
aggressor and move all in. This puts the pressure on them instead of you.
Every time you force an opponent to make a decision they have a chance of
making a mistake and every time an opponent makes a mistake you make money. This
is a perfect example of a situation where moving all in is the aggressive and
If you check, don’t improve on the turn, and an opponent bets what are you
going to do? You’re still in a situation where you need to call in most cases,
so once again you need to be the aggressor.
What about if you’re playing in a no limit Texas holdem tournament instead of
a cash game? Would your decision change?
While it’s true you have to protect your chips in a tournament, it’s also
true that when you start getting short stacked you have to try to double up to
In this case you need to push all in and hope at least one opponent call you
and hope you win the hand. You have to take a chance at this point because of
your short stack and good odds of winning the hand either immediately if both
opponents fold or at the show down.
With these 10 quiz questions and answers about bluffing in Texas holdem you
have a solid base of information to help you become a successful bluffer. By
understanding the reasoning behind the best answers you can apply the same
thought process to other bluffing situations that aren’t specifically covered
Remember that most Texas holdem players bluff too much, so if you don’t take
anything else away from this quiz, start bluffing less. You can also use this
information when you’re trying to decide if a player might be bluffing.
If an opponent makes a bet and you’re trying to decide if it’s a bluff or not
consider how you’d be playing the hand if your roles were reversed. Based on
what you know, would you be making a value bet or bluffing? Then include the
fact that most players bluff too much to help you come up with the most
If you don’t have time to read through each answer above and think about the
explanations right now, bookmark this page and come back when you have more
time. If you skip over the explanations without learning what’s behind them
you’re missing most of the good stuff.
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