All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Texas Holdem Poker Secrets - be like Amarillo Slim!

Bluff Detection:
How to spot a Bluffer

The secret giveaways that reveal
your poker opponent is bluffing

Bluff Detection: How to spot a bluffer - and how to do bluffing!


Bluffing is a very powerful weapon. The great professional players use it all the time. How can you counter it? You need several pieces of intel to give you better than a fifty-fifty chance of guessing if a player is bluffing you in a live, social game or online, such as in Party Poker bluffing.

Watch for an opposing player’s comfort level. When someone is setting out on a bluff it is almost impossible for them to behave as they would normally. Their stress levels go up however good they are at deception. Watch for it. Most players’ “non verbal” behaviour mirrors that of those around them at the table. Look for stress induced physical reactions out of step with the other players. Verbally, someone who is being honest will appear much more comfortable and at ease than a liar. You can tune your instincts to pick up on these signals with experience. Similar, but less obvious signals, are betrayed online also. This is especially true if someone becomes more active in the chat box at a time you are beginning to get the whiff of a bluff. Bluffers like a distraction to occur while they’re actively deceiving. You can provoke this by using the chat box yourself on a side issue and see if they pick up on it. It can be a shared joke or any simple item of conversation. The most interest is likely to be shown by the bluffer. It’s an easy trap to lay. The bluffer’s nerves will likely make them respond quicker than the other players.

Responses are always exaggerated when someone is lying. When you are fabricating a story (bluffing) the emphasis is almost always out of sync, unnatural. This again can betray itself online or socially. In a live game there are of course many more physical tell tale give-aways, such as temple rubbing, eyes looking down all the time as a child would when being told off.

Eye contact in a physical game is a powerful “tell” as some bluffers will over-engage when they are not being straightforward. We are back to the liar being unable to sync the correct or natural response to his words or gestures. Women are brilliant at unearthing deception and keeping their findings to themselves until it’s tactically most devastating. One of the best online signals of deception is a change in betting patterns. A naturally aggressive player who becomes more passive post flop either has a premium hand and is luring you in, or, if you’ve seen any of the above deception signs, is leading you to believe he has the “nuts” in an effort to convince you to fold. Compile the evidence as the hand unfolds and if you’re the bluffer, take acting lessons.

Spot the bluffer?
Maybe it's YOU who is bluffing at:

ALL THE ACES poker column:
Friday, November
 4, 2005: 
Bluff Detection: How to spot a bluffer