Nice quick read on the poker strategy of bluffing from Logically Positive on tumblr:
One of the most important tools of playing a good poker game is bluffing. Bluffing is an artform; specifically, it is the art of lying. When you bluff, you’re trying to tell a story to your opponent. You’re trying to tell them the story of a hand you really don’t have, but you want them to believe you have. Although some players do this extremely well, most players, especially the ones you will encounter at a typical cash table, don’t. But there are some good steps you can take to become an expert bluffer.
First of all, when your bluff you have to ask yourself this one fundamental question: “What hand specifically am I trying to bluff?” This is an EXTREMELY important question when bluffing because if you don’t ask it, or you don’t know the answer, you’re just playing a like a donkey and any decent player will call your shit out.
Let’s say the board comes up A-8-9 suited. Chances are, if you’re bluffing you probably want to bluff the flush. How should you go about bluffing? Most people, on the flop, will try to raise it very big. Sometimes this alone is enough to scare off most players. But some people are ballsy, or they aren’t afraid to call you because they don’t quite believe you. The river comes up a 3 of diamonds, you get intimidated, and back off. You’ve gone about bluffing completely wrong, and now your opponent knows you’re full of shit and goes in for the kill, stealing all those chips you betted in your pathetic attempt at lying.
It is a good idea to raise large, but in general a bluff shouldn’t rely solely on your opponents folding then and there. As I said earlier, ask yourself “If I really had the flush, how would I play it?” Chances are, you’d want to bet for sure, but not by a huge ammount. Because you have the flush and it’s the best flush on the board, you want to extract chips out of your opponent because there are not many cards that can come up which will cost you the game, so you want to bleed your opponents as much as possible.
In my opinion, the proper way to bluff the flush in this scenario would be to make a decently large raise, probably around 50-75% of the pot. Then, on the turn, regardless of what comes up you bet a little higher. THAT is how you scare someone into thinking you have the flush. If you’re going to bluff, you have to have the conviction to see it through. A lot of players will call your initial bets becuase they probably think you are bluffing. But if you follow through, you will intimidate players and probably win the hand.
The moral of the story here is that a good bluff doesn’t rely solely on taking it all on the flop. A good bluff, because your playing it as if you actually have the flush, will try to pretend to bleed out your opponents over time and that will be more likely to make a bunch of players fold.
One thing to keep in mind though: when you have such a highly textured board as the A-8-9 suited, you don’t want to let the opponent see too many cards. In other words, make your bets such that they are so expensive that a player who is also bluffing would be intimidated out of paying to see that next card. This is especially important when bluffing because in the event someone actually does have the flush, you’re fucked.
Generally speaking bluffs work better on a flop where only 2/3 of the cards are suited, so that your large raise will scare off people with just one card of the same suit: exactly the same kinds of players you want to avoid letting see more cards.