Bluffing can be a very effective way to take down large pots. Bluffing can also be a bad way to lose a bunch of chips. Knowing when and how to bluff is what makes a successful bluffer. Reading a bluff in a live game isn't as tough as it is online because you actually get to look at your opponent. Reading your opponents online is a little tougher because the tells are so subtle.Timing is a big tell. When a player waits an extraordinarily long time to raise, he likely has a huge hand and is trying to convince you he really needs to think the hand through. Actually he doesn't need any extra time, he knew exactly what he was going to do before the clock started on his turn. This guy is almost always setting a trap. Whatever he does next will likely be misleading. If he checks he probably has a monster hand, especially if you or other opponents behind him have been playing aggressively. If he fires out a big raise he probably is bluffing, sometimes players take extra time to make you think they have a great hand. Often it depends on how you have been playing and their perception of your game skills.
Once you figure out that a player usually tries to look or portray the exact opposite of what he really has, he becomes an easy read. Most players try to use these tactics. Figure out which players do and you will start taking down way more pots.
Playing against a player who mixes his game up and bluffs the same way he played a hand previously that he really had the nuts with is difficult. That's the opponent you want to be, the one who is very tough to read and portrays a solid game. Bluff when you need to and when you do, play it just like you really would if you had the hand you are representing. Think this out every time BEFORE you bluff. What will my opponent/s think if I do this? If it adds up that what you are doing was sneaky and you normally play sneaky then you can likely get away with a bluff.
If you get a post flop call on a nice continuation bet (3x + big blind) then you know your opponent likely has a good hand, especially if he has been playing pretty tight. When a hand is going like this and you keep getting called down it's not usually a great time to make a big push and try a big bluff. Just try to get real cheap cards or fold especially if your cards are junk.
Bluffing works great in position and pre flop mid way through a tournament and later. Stealing blinds is very important later in the game. If you don't steal you will likely get ate up by the blinds. I like to wait until I have at least J-7 off suit when I'm on the button to make a steal. With a hand like J-7 off suit I wouldn't steal unless everybody folded behind me in most cases. When I make a steal on the button I do it with a raise of at least two thirds (2/3) of the pot or 3 big blinds. If I have less than 10 big blinds I'm all in.
Over doing it can sometimes be necessary at the end of the game or when you are short stacked. Remember once you get your head above the water again to switch back into slightly less aggressive play mode. Once you get a good sized stack don't go on a big bluffing rampage by taking on short stacks left and right. Often when a player goes out of his way to represent a big hand he's bluffing. It depends on player skill level, style etc. but usually when your opponents play comfortably they have a good hand. When a player appears uncomfortable they usually are on the bluff.
People often bluff when they have a decent hand but feel like they got the bad end of the stick on the turn or river. Then all of a sudden they represent something that doesn't make any sense at all. Don't be one of these players because you will rarely win. Some players are trappers and some like to push and steal a lot. Watch how everybody plays. A guy that folds all the time is probably going to fold to a well played bluff. A maniac might just call you because he has 10 times more chips than you do.
Short stacks might be looking for a way to double up and be willing to play anything especially if they have less than 10 big blinds and seem like an intelligent player. Don't try to bluff players who have chip stacks substantially larger or smaller than your own. Battling opponents with similar sized chip stacks to your own is a great way to make an opponent feel threatened. Bluffs are far more successful against these opponents.
A good bluffer watches the cards and plays his hands wisely. He waits for the opportunity to pounce and goes for it. Always remember to use a bluff gone bad to your advantage. After getting caught in a bluff everybody will be thinking you are playing aggressive. Tighten up and wait for a good hand and switch back to aggressive mode when you catch that good one