Laying down a bluff
Bluffing is one of the most challenging but most fundamental elements in poker. If you do not bluff in poker you will find it difficult to be a successful poker player. Bluffing is not easy, it requires a great poker sense, timing and guts. It can be scary and embarrassing when you are caught bluffing, but just as exciting when you manage to pull off a bluff.
Bluffing in online poker can often feel like you are backing away from a fight if your opponent doesn't seem to want to go away. Even though it's against your natural instinct to back off, sometimes you just have got to do it. A typical situation is when you are the first to enter a pot and decide to raise it up because you have some paint cards. The big blind calls you and the both of you see a ragged flop. Normally, he's going to check to you, the aggressor in a hand.
If he does, this is a pretty standard play for you to make a continuation bet. Usually this means about half to three quarters of the pot, and usually the hand will stop right there. But what if it doesn't? Sometimes your opponent will call your continuation bet. He is offering you position with his call, yet on a ragged low card flop, you have to always be aware these are precisely the hands your opponent may have called you with. Of course you don't know that, as he might've called you with an ace king and have your king jack offsuit dominated.
What matters is that he did call you. Now, you can expect a few things from this call such as, he does have a really good hand whether that be from help from the flop or him slow playing you, it really doesn't matter. He may also think you are a timid enough opponent, to be planning a bet or check raise on the turn or river. He could simply be playing on the assumption that this flop completely missed your high cards, and you cannot afford to make this pot grow with an ace high hand. He may also just be playing with a small pair, or draw.
Now, reckoning on your opponent's profile, you may want to three bet him if he raises you, but that usually means a really big pot in a very marginal hand. This is something that you truly must consider to be a pricey situation long term. Simply put, if you don't have the balls or the cards to bet out on the turn or river, then you may likely be reconciled to saying to yourself, "that's all I'm going to put into this hand, I'll have to check it down or give it up". This is where poker tracking programs such as Hold'em Manager can help, by profiling your opponents and allowing you to understand there behaviours eg. Folds to 3bet percentage.
Giving up on a hand, or folding to somebody who has turned the aggression around on you is one of the toughest plays to make in terms of managing your own weaknesses. This is simply because we are in battle with a human propensity to protect oneself and fight for survival. Folding a hand, is more closely associated to feeling like a coward, not a fighter.
So backing away from a bluff never makes you feel good, but for players who realize that it is simply a calculated move and actually has nothing to do with your personality or character, will be able to walk away unscathed - at least emotionally. The good, knowledgeable players will be able to patiently wait for a better opportunity. Denser players, on the other hand may have a chip on their shoulder about having to fold, and may be leaning towards tilt after just a single hand.
Raising is not a problem in poker, it's really a required trait of achievers, but having to fold in certain spots is just as critical.