Playing online poker presents a lot of challenges you don’t have when you’re playing at the table.
One of the biggest is spotting the bluff; when you’re online you can’t actually see the other players. This means you can’t spot physical tells, you can’t look the other players in the other eyes or see what they’re doing with their hands. Instead, you have to watch their patterns of play and their cards and trust your gut.
A big advantage to online play is that you are forced to watch the cards. Many players get caught up in the trap of trying to “read” the other players and ignore the cards. This gives the players who bet their cards, and only make the occasional bluff, a big advantage.
Watching the pattern of play is the best way to catch bluffing online. Watch the other players closely and when somebody does bluff, take a note a note. Write down what they did and watch them again. Since you’re at home and the other players don’t see you, they can’t complain about what you’re doing.
Keep track of the players you regularly play with, take notes about what they do and look over the notes after the game. Always note when they bluff; some people only bluff when the pot is small or when they have a strong hand. Others bluff all the time, or when they have a lot of chips.
Every player is different and every player has a different pattern of bluffing. If you can spot the pattern of bluffing, you can anticipate their moves. This can help you decide when to bet and when to fold.
Savvy players are aware of these patterns and will deliberately vary them by playing erratically or doing something stupid. They will try to fool you by making a stupid play or trying to bluff you out when they know they don’t have the cards to back it up. Watch out for this erratic play and be particularly leery when somebody who seems really erratic or bad suddenly gets good when there’s a lot of money in the game.