On some occasions we find ourselves with a hand which has value at showdown, however we only beat a small portion of our opponents range.
In these instances we have all three options open to us.
- Call and hope we have the better of it as villains can have missed draws.
- Fold. Our villains value bet range is likely to be better than our holding.
- Bluff. You turn your hand with marginal showdown into a bluff by raising.
I’m going to walk you through a hand I think is a very good example of the latter.
We are playing a cash game with 50p/£1 blinds. The table is difficult and is full of regular players. All of them thinking players. This is important as bluffing specific boards needs your opponent to be aware of both his perceived range and also yours.
We make a relatively wide open 5 handed with J7hh from the cut-off.
The bet gets called in 3 spots and we go 4 way to the flop.
The board isn’t that bad for us considering our starting hand. We’ve flopped middle pair with backdoor heart and straight draws. I don’t mind checking back this flop a reasonable portion of the time. In fact some may advise a check back because if someone raises our bet we are already put to a test and would likely have to fold.
I however decide to take the aggressive route and bet my middle pair.
We get called in one spot.
The turn brings a 5 of hearts which is a good/bad card for us. We now have a flush draw to add to our 2nd pair, however any 8 makes a straight and there might be some two pairs out there now such as 56.
The opponent bets just over 1/3 of the pot which appears relatively weak, but as he’s led and we have the implied odds to call our flush draw in position, as well as our 2nd pair, we see a river…
The river makes for interesting reading as the 9 pairs. All flush draws have missed.
However the straight lingers there and our opponent decides to bet again just over 1/4 pot.
To me this strikes me as a value bet instead of a bluff due to the sizing. It almost looks like he wants to get called making the river so cheap. Sometimes this can be a cheap bluff, but most of the time its value of some sort.
In these marginal spots we can consider raising, not for value, but as a stone bluff.
“Why?” you may ask.
Let’s consider hand ranges on all three streets.
On the flop I bet and the opponent flat calls. To me this is the most important street of the three.
Two pairs and sets on this flop will almost always raise our bet on this board. The board has many straight draws and flush draws. It’s too risky/passive to smooth call here with hands 97/76/67/99/77/66 and even 108. Sometimes the opponent may take the low variance line but the vast majority of the time his hand is random 9’s, small pairs and draws of which there are multiple combinations.
The villain leads the 5h turn. This can look like a blocker bet but it’s not too far fetched to concede that the villain has turned a small two pair or even the straight with the 8.
Our flat call here indicates we are unlikely to have an 8 in our range at this moment as the board now has two flush draws on it. We’d want to raise our 8s for value at this point.
We do however have all of the combinations that the villain would have raised on the flop in our range.
We can have 99, 77, 66, 97. Even 55 is in our range, along with of course flush/straight draw combinations. We are unlikely to raise these sets and two pairs on that turn when 4 cards to the straight are present on the board.
When the board pairs on the river and the villain leads again we have a decision.
The villain can have random 9s here. He also can have a random 8 for a straight. He could also have a better 7 than us – A7hh for example. All of these hands beat us.
However as mentioned previously, our range includes the vast majority of Full Houses. The only Full House the villain can really have is 55.
We decide to make a move.
The villain tanks for his entire timebank and folds.
After discussing the hand with said villain (actually a nice guy despite the screen name!) he admitted to folding an 8 for the straight.
The bluff raise can be a powerful tool to add to our Poker game, however it can be very dangerous if used too much or if we are using them versus the wrong opponents and on the wrong boards.
Let me know what your opinion is on the thought process.
Agree? Or am I just a lucky fish clicking buttons?