Your Bluff Should Tell A Story

This is very good advice when you’re playing against observant opponents who have some good hands in their range. If you play your hand in a way that you would never play a strong hand, you’ll often get looked up by good opponents whenever they hold anything at all. Your line needs to represent something in order to maintain credibility. You need your opponents to think about all the good hands you could have in order to induce a fold.

It doesn’t matter what you represent, though, when your opponent has nothing to call with. There are times when both players know that the other player is full of it. The one who puts in the last bet wins these confrontations. Here’s an example from a hand Dusty played:

Dusty opens to $20 with AT♥ from the button and gets called by a psychotically aggressive small blind. The big blind comes along as well. Effective stacks are $1300.

On a flop of K72♦, Dusty bets $30 into $60. The small blind raises to $90 and the big blind folds. The small blind can almost never have a good hand here. He 3-bets all pocket pairs before the flop, as well as ace-king, king-queen, and king-jack. So he can never hold a set or a strong top pair. Maybe he’s got king-seven suited some of the time, but that’s just two combinations.

The plan is to let this guy bluff off as many chips as possible without letting him get the last word in. If Dusty raised to $270, the small blind might just re-raise all in. When Dusty re-raises, the small blind will very accurately observe that Dusty is unlikely to play a strong hand this way. (With something like a set, calling in position is better, allowing the small blind to barrel off).

Instead of making the larger raise, Dusty makes it only $170. With $330 in the pot and $1190 left behind, an all-in move from the small blind would be excessive. If he decides to 4-bet, he’s more likely to raise to about $400. This would give Dusty a chance to come back over the top and get the last word in.

Surprisingly, the small blind just calls the flop and checks the 9♠ turn. It appears that he’s trying to find a way to get the last word in himself. His plan is probably to check/raise the turn. Dusty thwarts his plan by checking back. The river is the 9♦ and the small blind bets $370. Dusty now shoves all in and the maniac folds.

The very next day, an almost identical situation occurred against the same player. Dusty took the same flop line with a set of sevens, bet the turn, and the guy check/raised all in with air.

The moral to this story is that your bluff doesn’t need to tell one, unless your opponent has something to call you with. If he doesn’t, then bombs away! Just make sure you get the last word.

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