The 10 Greatest Bluffs Ever Pulled

Bluffing is an excellent technique. Not just in poker, but in other aspects of life as well. Some of the greatest bluffs have been used in war and other desperate situations that call for a bit of fibbing. The following stories exemplify some of the best ways people have used lying and general foolery to their advantage.

Christopher Columbus Dupes the Natives
The Greatest Bluffs In History
Christopher Columbus successfully predicted a lunar eclipse that frightened the hell out of the Jamaican natives in 1504. He and his men were living on the Caribbean island for nearly nine months and the locals were getting tired of their squatting. Sensing this, Columbus wanted to make them think he was God, or at least a prophet, so that they would continue providing for his men.

He cheated, using a celestial almanac authored by Abraham Zacuto, and they were none the wiser. He told the natives that God was angry with them for treating his men badly; it was perhaps the greatest guilt trip in history. They were then too scared to make Columbus leave.

Brits Drop Opium Cigarettes on the Enemy
Greatest Bluffs In History
In 1917 during the Siege of Jerusalem, the British dropped cigarettes laced with opium down to the Ottoman army. Attached to the cigarettes were flyers advertising a peaceful end to the war. The Ottomans smoked the cigarettes, and the British invaded. The Ottomans couldn’t successfully defend themselves and lost, likely due to being shitfaced on opium.

Operation Mincemeat
Greatest Bluffs In History
Widely regarded as one of the most successful wartime deceptions of all time, the British dropped a corpse into enemy territory with fake military documents attached to the body. Charles Cholmondeley and Ewen Montagu masterminded Operation Mincemeat, and the Allies changed the course of the Second World War.

The corpse’s documents said that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia. The Nazis bought it and prepared for an invasion. But in April 1943, 160,000 Allied troops went for Sicily instead, conquering it and allowing Allied shipping to take place throughout the Mediterranean and continental Europe.

Mussolini was toast from there, and the rest is history.

The Extremely Boring Codename for the “British Manhattan Project”
Greatest Bluffs In History
Some of the most ingenious subterfuge tactics took place during World War II. One such clever deception involved naming Britain’s Manhattan Project as “Tube Alloys,” a codename so boring no one would investigate.

Tube Alloys was only a guise used to throw off outsiders. The project developed nuclear weapons for the United Kingdom, specifically plutonium, whose existence “was a secret until its use in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.”

American Ghost Army
Greatest Bluffs In History
Kept a secret for 40 years after World War II, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops wasn’t your typical army unit – it consisted of artists, actors, set designers, and other creative types who knew how to pull a ruse.

They used inflatable tanks, sound trucks, fake aircrafts, fake radio transmissions, and loudspeakers to deceive the Nazis. Thinking a massive regiment of 30,000 Allied soldiers were nearby, the Germans had no idea only a tiny 1,100-man unit were faking.

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops staged more than 20 deceptions, stalling the enemy by instilling fear due to their close proximity. Some elements of the American ghost army during WW2 remain classified.

Transporting the World’s Biggest Diamond
Greatest Bluffs In History
The largest diamond ever discovered in 1905 near Pretoria, South Africa. It was called the Cullinan Diamond, and remains famous to this day.

Delivering it to England posed extreme security issues. They feared a robbery. So they put a group of London detectives aboard a steamboat which housed the captain’s safe. They placed fake stone inside the safe and sent the real Cullinan Diamond via regular postage. Like an Amazon delivery. It arrived safely to its destination.

Zhuge Liang and the Empty Fort Strategy
Greatest Bluffs In History
Throughout Chinese history, the Empty Fort Strategy was used quite often to throw off invading armies. In 228 AD, commander Zhuge Liang had only a few hundred men to general Zima Yi’s 150,000 soldiers. Knowing of Yi’s impending attack on the city of Xicheng, Liang ordered men within the city, to dress in civilian clothes and to open the gates.

Liang played his guqin and his men swept the streets when Yi and his army entered. Yi thought Liang had devised an ambush – knowing he was a cunning military strategist – and called off the plot to invade Xicheng.

Joseph Smith and His Seer Stones
Greatest Bluffs In History
Everyone knows about the story of Joseph Smith and the inception of the Mormon religion. Popularized by “South Park,” Smith was basically a conman whose “revelations” concerning God were conceived through seer stones. In 1823, he relayed the word of God to a scribe, Oliver Cowdery, and the Book of Mormon was written.

“He put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine … Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”

The Trojan Horse
Greatest Bluffs In History
As the most famous story of military deception in history goes, the Greeks built a huge trojan horse and placed it at the entrance of Troy. Thinking it was only a victory trophy, the Trojans watched as the Greeks sailed away. Once the horse was inside the city limits, a force of Greeks hidden inside burst out and destroyed the entire city, effectively ending the Trojan War.

“I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman”
Greatest Bluffs In History
He stared straight into the camera and told millions he didn’t do what we all knew he did. Using a cigar, an intern, and amazing earnestness only a genius liar could pull off, Clinton was impeached and yet still holds one of the highest post-office approval ratings ever.