October 3, 2011

Bluffing With a Made Hand

When playing poker all day like most poker props do, you get into a whole bunch of extremely peculiar situations. Turning a made hand into a bluff can be such a situation. Sometimes, the move is a grievous mistake, especially when it’s unintentional. Such mistakes usually happen in situations when a worse hand is never going to make the call and a better hand is never willing to fold.

Sometimes however, the person holding the better hand will fold it, and thus a bottom showdown range hand may end up taking down a handsome pot for you without any kind of suspense. In such cases, turning your made hand into a bluff makes sense, because what you basically do is that you take a hand which has some showdown value for you, and you add value to it by turning it into a bluff. Bluffing with such hands makes even more sense in light of the fact that the very definition of a good bluff tells you to leave yourself a plan B possibility open. The showdown value that you already have on the hand is your plan B in this case.
Let’s take a look at an actual example:
In a $1/$2 game, you’re dealt 7h, 8h. Your effective stacks are $300. Your opponent makes an $8 raise before the flop and you call. The flop falls 8d, J,K and your opponent fires out another bet, this time a $14 one. You make the call with your pair of 8s and the turn falls the Jh. This is a crucial card, because it sets up the bluff that you’re going to use to add much more value to your hand than the slim showdown value it already has. Your opponent bets $30 on the turn and you call again. The river is a 3, a brick, and your opponent fires out a $70 bet. In response, you put your remaining $248 into the middle, thus completing the snare. Your opponent folds, possibly putting you on a set of Js. In that case, he may even fold a pair of Ks.

Turning the pair of 8s into a bluff is especially profitable in this case, because your opponent may have a plethora of various hands he’s betting with, like a pair of Ks – which are good of course, and which he’s betting for value – a missed draw or even three Js. Of these hands, only the jack trips represent a profitable call for him under the given circumstances.

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