The 5 Best Poker Bluffing Hands (Skyrocketed My Winnings!)

Bluff With These 5 Poker Hands (Skyrocketed My Winnings!)

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

Bluffing is arguably the most exciting part of no-limit Texas hold’em. There’s nothing quite like the rush of pushing your opponent out of a huge pot while holding absolute air. 

However, it’s also one of the aspects of poker that players tend to struggle with the most. 

They either run huge ill-advised bluffs in spots they shouldn’t, or don’t bluff nearly enough, which makes them overly predictable and unable to get paid off once they actually do get a monster hand.

No matter which side of the spectrum you’re tilting towards, this article will help you make more efficient bluffs and make more money at the poker tables.

It will cover the best bluffing hands in no-limit hold’em, why they’re so efficient, and what to look out for when playing them.


1. Ace-Jack


Ace-Jack is not a premium hand by any means. Equity-wise, it’s an underdog against premium pocket pairs like Aces or Kings, and is dominated by stronger Ax holdings like Ace-King or Ace-Queen. 

A lot of players tend to overplay this hand, only to find out their hand has been dominated all the way through the hand when they get to showdown. 

However, Ace-Jack is still a pretty versatile hand, and can still be one of your long-term winners, even if you miss the flop with it completely (which will happen more often than not.)

Ace-Jack is not a hand that you can often play preflop as a value hand. You can only bet a hand for value if you believe you’re comfortably ahead of a large part of your opponent’s calling range. 

While Ace Jack can be a value betting candidate in single-raised pots, it doesn’t really fare too well if you encounter a 3-bet, as there aren’t too many hands your opponents could 3-bet with that Ace-Jack is ahead of. By the way, a 3-bet preflop is simply a raise against another player’s open-raise.

So if you face a 3-bet when holding Ace-Jack, you should tread carefully. This is something that is discussed in much more detail in Modern Small Stakes by the way.

It doesn’t mean you should necessarily fold automatically, but you should be aware that players don’t usually 3-bet with hands weaker than Ace-Jack (unless they’re bluffing, of course.)

That being said, Ace Jack is a great 3-bet bluffing hand on its own, especially if it’s suited. You can even throw in an occasional 4-bet bluff with it, as well.

For example:

You have AJ and open raise it from the button

A loose and aggressive reg 3bets from the big blind  

You should 4bet here on occasion to balance your range and keep them guessing.

The other reason why is because Ace-Jack has good blocker power. In poker, a blocker is a card that decreases the likelihood of your opponent holding certain hole cards. 

If you hold an Ace in your hand, for example, you decrease the number of combinations of pocket Aces in your opponents range from 6 combinations to only 3 combinations. 

So Ace-Jack significantly reduces the number of strong value hands in your opponents range, namely the pocket Aces, pocket Jacks, and Ace-King. 

This means that your opponent is more likely to fold to your 3-bet. 

Even if your 3-bet gets called, not all is lost, as you still have a significant chunk of equity post-flop. You can often make the nut straight and flush combinations with Ace-Jack, and hopefully take down a huge pot. 

More often than that, however, you’re usually going to flop a pair of Jacks or Aces. 

If you flop a pair of Jacks, you’re often going to have a top-pair top kicker hand, and if you flop a pair of Aces, a top-pair, decent kicker. 

Also, if your opponent called your 3-bet, you’re going to see the flop with the range advantage, meaning you can keep applying the pressure postflop, whether or not you actually have a made hand.

(A range advantage means you theoretically have more strong holdings in your range than your opponent, as the last street’s aggressor is perceived to be the one with the strongest hand.)

Check out my complete step by step guide to 3bet pots by the way for much more on what to do on the flop.


2. King-Nine Suited


King-Nine suited is another speculative hand that isn’t strong enough to be a value betting candidate preflop, as it’s likely to be behind a lot of stronger hands, like KQ, KJ, and KT. 

However, it can be turned into a great 3-bet bluffing hand. 

Similar to AJ, it has the potential of flopping really strong straights and flushes, or straight and flush draws. 

This hand equity is very important when deciding to turn a certain hand into a bluff preflop. You don’t want to make a stone cold bluff with hands that have very little chance of improving post-flop. 

You want to choose hands that have something to fall back on if your preflop bluff gets called. The more hand equity a hand has, the more inclined you should be to play it. 

But instead of just flat calling with some speculative hands preflop, you want to throw an occasional 3-bet instead. 

The reason why is because you want to go to the flop as a preflop aggressor. 

This gives you a range advantage, and allows you to keep applying the pressure postflop with flop and turn continuation bets, whether or not you actually connected with the flop.

Nathan talks about in his latest millionaire poker tips video.

  
Of course, if you miss the flop completely, and it’s unlikely your opponents will actually fold to a c-bet, you’ll want to ease off the throttle a bit. 

Remember, bluffing is only profitable if your opponents actually have a fold button. With that said, K9s is a great 3-bet bluffing candidate, because it also has blocker power. 

A King in hand reduces the number of strong value hand combinations in your opponent’s range, namely pocket Kings and Ace-King. 

It also has fairly decent equity if your 3-bet gets called, as you’ll often flop a pair of Kings, or some sort of a drawing hand. 

The stronger your draw, the faster you should play it, meaning you want to bet and raise frequently, as opposed to checking and calling.

As I talked about recently, playing too passively is actually on of the biggest poker amateur mistakes that I see these days.  

Unlike AJs, however, you aren’t drawing to the strongest possible straight or flush, so more caution is advised. You don’t want to end up having only the second strongest hand.


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3. Ace-Five Suited


Ace-Five suited, as well as other small suited Aces (from Ace-Two suited to Ace-Four suited) make not only great 3-bet bluffing hands, but also occasional 4-bet bluffing candidates as well. 

A 4-bet being a raise against other player’s 3-bet.

Similar to the Ace-Jack suited, these small suited Aces have the potential of making monster hands like the nut flush, as well as occasional straights.

This means that small suited Aces have a lot of additional equity to fall back on if your 3-bet or 4-bet gets called.

I love small suited aces so much that I have written an entire article on how to play them effectively by the way.

Another advantage of playing small suited Aces aggressively preflop is that you will usually end up in shallow SPR pots postflop.

SPR or stack-to-pot ratio is a ratio between the pot size and your remaining stack size, and it determines how committed you are to the pot. 

If the SPR is small, like 3 or less, you’re automatically committed to the pot with a top-pair hand or better, and you should be willing to put the rest of your stack into the pot. 

Conversely, the bigger the SPR, the less committed you are to the pot. In 3-bet and 4-bet pots, SPR will usually be quite small.

So if you flop a pair of Aces, or a really strong draw like a nut flush draw, you should get the rest of your stack in the pot, as you’re likely to be ahead of a large chunk of your opponent’s range. 

Even if you miss the flop completely, you can try to take down the pot with a standard c-bet if the flop texture is favourable (i.e. it’s a dry, uncoordinated flop that is unlikely to connect with your opponents calling range). 

For example:

You raise A5 and a TAG player calls you in the blinds

Flop comes:

K83

The TAG checks

You should just make a CBet here because you will take down the pot right then and there fairly often. 

This is especially the case if they have a high Fold to Flop CBet which you can see on your poker HUD.

Small suited Aces also have the aforementioned blocker power, so they make it less likely your opponents are holding very strong hands like pocket Aces or Ace-King.

This makes small suited Aces great 4-bet bluffing candidates as well. 

Since a lot of players will only 4-bet really strong holdings like pocket Aces, Kings, and maybe pocket Queens and Ace-King, they’re likely to assume their opponents will do the same. 

So incorporating a 4-bet bluff in your arsenal can be very profitable, as you can win a pot even without having a strong hand. 

This is important as really strong hands don’t come around as often, so you can’t rely on them alone to be a profitable long term winner.

Occasionally winning a pot without a strong hand can do wonders to your bottom line. 

It will also make you more difficult to play against, as your opponents will have to think twice before 3-betting you with impunity. 

They will also be more likely to pay you off once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

Remember, the more you bluff, the less fold equity (i.e., how often another player folds percentage-wise) you’re likely to have in the future, even against tight opponents. 

So you want to pick your bluffing spots carefully, and have something to fall back on (i.e. hand equity) if your bluff does get called. 

With all that in mind, small suited Aces are just about the best bluffing hands in no-limit hold’em, so always consider playing them aggressively, as opposed to just waiting to complete your flush. 

You’ll miss your flush far more often than not, and even if you do, there’s no guarantee your opponents will pay you off, as completed flushes are fairly obvious to spot, even to recreational players.

See Crushing the Microstakes for a much deeper analysis on this by the way and how to play your flush draws better.


4. Ten-Nine Suited


Ten-Nine suited is another great speculative hand you can occasionally turn into a bluff. 

As with other entries on the list, it has more than one thing going for it, namely the ability to make really strong straights and flushes.

This is one of the main reasons why I also love suited connectors and have an entire article on how to play them optimally as well.  

Unlike other entries on the list, however, you won’t always be drawing to the strongest possible combination, so exercise caution.

Still, T9 suited will often connect to the board in some way. Since it’s a middling suited connector, a number of different flop textures it can connect with is through the roof. 

Unlike the previous entries, it doesn’t have the blocker power, but it’s ability to connect well with a variety of different flops more than makes up for it. 

This means that you’ll almost always have some sort of hand equity to fall back on in case your bluff gets called. 

For example: 

Say you decide to 3-bet bluff with T9 and this flop comes:

KJ8♣

Even though you don’t have a made hand, you have an enormous chunk of equity even against made hands. 

You have 4 outs to the nut straight, as well as a backdoor flush draw. Nathan talks about how to read your equity in spots like this in much more detail in The Micro Stakes Playbook.

Any Queen will also give you a straight, even though you have to discount them because they can also give your opponent a nut straight if they are holding Ace-Ten. 

That’s why I mentioned the need to be careful when playing these speculative hands, because they have the danger of making only the second best hands, which is the worst hand to have in poker.

Still, even with these tainted outs, you have a lot of equity against your opponent’s range. 

You also have the range advantage due to being the preflop aggressor, and this kind of flop interacts well with your perceived range. 

This makes a c-bet mandatory, and you will often win the pot outright with it with just Ten-high. Remember, you don’t have to worry about hitting your outs if everybody just folds.


5. Six-Five Suited


Six-Five suited is another speculative hand with the potential of making really strong combinations. 

The reason this hand is the lowest on the list is because it’s a lot more vulnerable to being dominated, (i.e. if you do end up making a straight or a flush, you run the risk of your opponents holding an even stronger straight/flush). 

It also has no blocker power to speak of, so even more caution is warranted when deciding to play it.

With that said, this article is about bluffing hands, not strong value hands, and in this regard, 65s can be a decent bluffing candidate. 

It also has some sort of hand equity to fall back on in case your bluff gets called, albeit less than other hands on this list. 

But another thing this hand has going for it that others don’t is the so-called deception value. 

This means that your opponents can’t easily put you on this exact hand. So once you do hit the flop hard, you’ll be able to extract value from a lot of weaker hands.

Having hands like this in your range is also one of my top ways to quickly improve your poker game by the way, because it will confuse your opponents.  

This means 65s can work as a so-called reverse bluff, where you want to make your opponents think you’re bluffing, when you’re actually holding a really strong hand.

For example: 

If you 3-bet 65 preflop and the flop comes:

74♣3♠

You have the nut straight, and if you’re playing against more observant opponents, they might assume the flop doesn’t connect well with your perceived 3-betting range. 

So if you fire off a standard continuation bet, they’ll figure you have plenty of air in your range, and call you down with hands like middle pairs (pocket Nines or Eights), overcards (like AQ or KJ), or even some backdoor draws.

You can just check their WTSD% on your poker HUD by the way to find out how often they will call you down.  

They might even raise you with some of these hands, which of course works great for you. Now, in most cases, you of course won’t be blessed with such a generous flop. 

On most other flops you miss with a hand like 65s, you won’t have plenty of room for improvement on future streets. 

And as mentioned previously, strong combinations like straights and flushes simply don’t come around often enough.

But in order to not become overly predictable, it pays to look for spots where you can turn a marginal holding into a bluff. 

You don’t want to do it too often, but doing so only now and then will keep your opponents guessing. 

Not only will you be able to win the pot outright, you’ll also be able to extract more value once you do get a really strong hand.


The 5 Best Hands to Bluff With (Summary)


These are some of the best bluffing hands in no-limit Texas hold’em poker. 

It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, and it’s more of a guideline of what actually constitutes a good bluffing hand.

Any good advanced poker strategy these days, needs to include a few of these hands to balance your range against other good poker players. 

Now, since all your bluffing attempts won’t always be successful though, it’s worth having something to fall back on once your bluff gets called, namely some sort of hand equity. 

That’s why it’s generally better to semibluff (i.e. betting and raising without a made hand, but with the possibility of improvement on future streets) than stone-cold bluffing (i.e. betting and raising with absolute air). 

All of these hands are therefore semi-bluffing hands, as you basically always have some sort of equity to fall back on. 

In practice, however, good spots to bluff will depend on a lot of other factors other than your hole cards themselves

Namely, the type of opponent you’re up against, the previous action, the history between players, just to name a few. So you have to take all these factors into consideration as well.

Remember, the goal of bluffing is to get other players to fold. If they fold way too often, it doesn’t matter what hole cards you’re holding. You can bluff them while holding two napkins in your hands. 

If they don’t ever fold, just don’t bother bluffing them at all. 

As with anything else poker, context is key, so make sure you have the complete story first, and treat your hole cards as an afterthought. Play the player, not the cards.

Lastly, if you want to know my complete strategy for making $1000+ per month in low stakes games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Bluff With These 5 Poker Hands