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A poetic bluff

By: Krapat @ 20:04 (EDT) / 653 / Comment ( 2 )

I was playing a sit 'n go that started with 180 players. The initial stack was 1,500 and it was only the first level of blinds (10/20). I had doubled up earlier in the tournament.

I got AJ offsuit in middle position and decided to play that hand, being somewhat of a loose player - we don't have to play AJ in the early stages of a tournament, especially in one like this, with 15-minute levels. So I made a  standard raise for 3 BB and got called by someone right on my left, who had just about the inital stack.

The pot was 150 and the flop came only baby cards, with two clubs. I made a continuation bet for 2/3 of the pot, knowing that my opponent would miss the flop just about 65% of the time, and would probably give up in that spot. But, instead, he raised. Minraised, actually. Minraises, generally speaking, might only be effective in pot-limit games, because you need to plan your hand carrefully in order to get an all-in or a decent size bet. In this instance, however, things change. Think of it from my perspective: the pot had 150 in chips, I've put an extra 100 and the other guy raised to 200, yielding a pot of 450. But it is only 100 for me to call, and I have two overcards, giving me six outs - three aces and three jacks. The pot odds are 4.5-to-1 and the odds of pairing by the turn are 41-to-6, roughly 7-to-1. By if I hit my pair, it'll probably be the best hand and I'll have some extra value that will compensate the  current pot odds. Besides, there is a possibility of bluff on later streets. (All those maneuvers are slightly risky for early stages of a tournament, though)

So I decided to call and - bang - a Jack of clubs on the turn. Now I have a pair, but I am concerned about a possible flush. After all, my opponent could have raised with a flush draw. I was out of position holding a fair made hand, so I checked. The guy made a very small bet - 200. I really thought he wanted me to call, and that was what I did. The river was another baby card, giving the possibility of a straight, and he moved in for 920, nearly a pot-size bet.

I stopped for a moment. Making a small bet on the flop and a pot-size one on the turn is what some people do in a heavy-draw board. The reason for that is they maximize the chance the opponent will fold in case they have a draw or they give the others very thin odds when they have a made hand. But this guy made the small bet on the turn and the pot-sized one on the river. And that's suspicious.

I was trying to put him on a range of hands. Since he just called preflop, suited connectors, small and medium pocket pairs and a ace-x or king-x were some of the most likely possibilities. Of course he could have slow-played aces or kings. But the actions on the flop and turn change the scenario. A click-raise might be a good hand - a ''sloppy'' player who wants to put a raise and get called on the flop, so he can make bigger bets on later streets -, but it also can be a bluff, just because some players think that the minraise indicates so much strength. The bet on the turn, for 200, was unexpected. When a player bets the same amount in two consecutive streets, he is usually weak. And that's not what someone with a made flush would normally do: a check, trying to induce a bluff on the river, or a big bet are more common. And the river bet was definitely scary.

My only concern at that moment, however, was a straight made by the river. Some players push small bluff-bets on the early streets and, when they see they've got a hand, they put a huge bet. You can often see that with players holding AK - they think it is a powerful hand that has the right to steal pots. And when the king comes in the last betting round, they push a bet. A big bet.

Back to the hand ranges, pocket pairs become very unlikely: with a set, a bigger raise on the flop would make more sense. Suited connectors are the big problem: straights and two pair could beat my AJ. But with a river bet that big, stronger hands would easily call his bet, while weaker hands could fold. He'd win the pot when the opponent had a pair and lose his entire stack when up against a flush.

Finally, I decided to call.


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