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Smart bluffs

By: Krapat @ 19:25 (EDT) / 451 / Comment ( 0 )
Generally speaking, bluffs have to be believable. You don't want your opponent to think you might be bluffing; you want them to be sure you've got the best hand.

Here is a typical example.

I've got a weakish hand in the big blind and decided to defend it. The flop gave me top pair, a bockdoor flush draw, and some bluffs outs in case a spade happens to hit the board - my opponent can't have the nut flush, so he'll probably fold to a decent size bet.

I checked and he made a continuation bet. I called. Although I have a pretty marginal holding for Omaha, it is still good heads-up. If he holds something like QQJ9, I've got many outs to beat him. Besides, it is unlikely he would bet the turn again with just a pair.

The turn, however, was an intriguing card, pairing the board and giving me a flush draw. I checked and the other player put a bet close to half the pot. This somewhat restricts the number of hands he could have: with a three-of-a-kind, a bigger bet would be okay, because this would chase away some flush draw (there are two now on the board); with a full house, many players would check in this position, just to try to induce a bluff on the river. Besides, someone with trips in a flop like that would usually put a larger amount, because there would be many other hands that could call.

And then I tried a check-raise. Not that huge one people usually see these days, the pot size check-raise that makes easy for the guy with the nuts call and even easier for weaker hands to fold. I put a fairly small raise, considering the odds he would get (roughly 3-to-1). This would leave me room for pushing another bet on the river.

And it comes a good card for me, a spade, completing my imaginary nut flush.I know he does not have the best flush, so I bluff. I've put about half the pot, because that is a bet I would do with a good hand in that spot: it is not large enough, so it would get called by weaker hands. At least, this is the impression I'm trying to give to my opponent. This small bet makes it terrifying for him to call. He would fold straights and flushes, and I'm confident he does not have a full house.
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