Ensign Babyface Commander William Riker is a known poker player. We often see him playing with officers under his command. Most of them are aware of his bluffing skills. Isn't it pretty obvious for them that he is bluffing most of the time? Or isn't he?

How often do we actually see William Riker bluffing during poker?

  • This kind of seems like an opinion question. Nov 23, 2018 at 16:45

2 Answers 2


Riker bluffs in poker at least twice on-screen: once in 2x09 "The Measure of a Man", wherein he introduces the concept to Data, and once(-ish) in 5x18 "Cause and Effect". (The poker game in question was repeated several times due to time-travel shenanigans.) In both cases, his bluffing was relevant to the plot.

In most other cases the outcome of the actual hands doesn't seem to get much attention, so it's not clear how consistently he bluffed. He could play plenty of hands straight, and we simply don't see them because they're not interesting, sort of how we never see the hundreds of times the Enterprise pulled up by a planet and nobody tried to shoot, abduct, or swindle them.

Finally, from a poker-playing perspective, bluffing all the time doesn't make you good at bluffing. Any fool can do that. A skilled player should know when it's not prudent to bluff - whether because the other players are too confident in their own hands, or because they're starting to cotton on.

  • Of course, I agree on the last paragraph (being a poker player myself) and I know we can only discuss the hands that are seen on the show. I like your answer, but I was thinking about a summary of the hands shown in TNG (like: 2 times bluffing, 1 times no bluff, 3 other hands not shown). Nov 22, 2018 at 8:32
  • A look through the inevitable Memory Alpha article on the subject and reading the synopses of episodes where the crew was playing poker didn't reveal any other instances where Riker's hand was actually shown. Someone other than me would have to go watch all those episodes to verify that, though.
    – Cadence
    Nov 22, 2018 at 8:36
  • Well, rewatching TNG right now is giving me questions, not answers :) But someone may try :) Nov 22, 2018 at 8:38

In addition to 2x09 "The Measure of a Man" and 5x18 "Cause and Effect" as mentioned already, Riker also bluffs in 3x26 "The Best of Both Worlds: Part 1".

  • 1
    Could you possibly give more information about the bluff? Providing the details in your answer makes for a stronger answer. Maybe some information why in this particular instance his bluff was well hidden.
    – Edlothiad
    Nov 16, 2020 at 7:33

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