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A Bluff Examined

I've recently wrote about the adrenaline rush I get when I play poker. This was a perfect example, a hand where I made a huge bluff. I also think this hand is worth examining, since I fired all two huge bullets and went all-in before taking down the pot with Ace-high. A quick, tight observer would consider my play crazy. However, I think it was wholly justified throughout, based on my read of the situation.

We were in the 100/200 level of the MATH last night, and I had 4290, up from the starting stack of 3000. I played fairly loose early on until I was down to 1500. Then I tightened up and doubled up when I got all-in against a player preflop with my AA vs. his AK. From there, I chipped up slowly. I was playing fairly tight, but my reputation usually causes people to think I'm still playing loose.

I was in the BB with A3o. Esquire80, a player I have never seen before, limped in MP with 4660. Rslocal, another new player to me, called in the SB with 8000+ chips. I checked.

The flop was 25T with two clubs. Rslocal bets 200. He has been pretty active, so I opt to call, hoping I'll steal it from him on the later streets, or hit a 4 or Ace. His 200 bet is tiny. I can afford to call without concern for my stack. I also think I'll felt him with a 4, and I can reevaluate if an Ace comes.

The turn was an offsuit 8. Rslocal bet 600 into the 1000 pot. I decide that this is my chance. I've basically put him on a flush draw. That would explain the small bet early, followed by an escalated by still weak bet on the turn. His betting also suggests a weak bluff. A lot of players min-bet out of position as a weak bluff. I can't define it specifically, but his earlier play suggested a weak semi-bluff on the flop, and a bigger semi-bluff on the turn, in an effort to force me out of the pot. I decided that it was time to check-raise. I bumped it to 1800, leaving me 2k+ behind. He called.

Interestingly, the call was a good thing. If he raises all-in, I fold. But a flat call leads me to believe that he was not confident in his hand. I only have 2090 left, so I was pot committed to a call if he pushed all-in and I had a good hand. If he had a monster, like 22, 55, or even a flopped two-pair, he may try to force me into the pot by pushing all-in here. By simply calling, it was a lot more likely he was on a draw.

The river is an offsuit Jack. Rslocal checks, and I push all-in for 2090. Even though he had me outchipped by almost 4k, he folds. He must've missed his flush draw, or he finally gave up on his single pair.

If anything, it was the fearless river bet that made this hand for me. I think many players fear going out so much that they miss opportunities. I do not mean to suggest that you should push in a lot. That's a foolish way to play large tournaments. You want to minimize the amount of times you are all-in. But if you are facing a hand where pushing all-in could secure an otherwise losing pot, sometimes you have to pull the trigger.

Looking back, I might have to rethink this hand. There wasn't anything in the hand history that immediately screams that he was semi-bluffing a draw. In fact, some may argue that his play looks like a monster. His flop bet is to induce calls. His turn bet is small compared to the pot (60% of the pot), to also induce a call. He called my re-raise instead of raising because he had a lock on the hand. And he checked the river to induce my all-in bluff. As we all know, that is not the case, but an argument could be made that based on a recitation of the action alone, I was potentially flying blind. Still, at the time, I felt fairly certain (never 100%) that he didn't have a hand worthy of calling the turned re-raise. A lot of times, players (including myself) will call re-raises too quick to realize that their smartest move is to fold. In this instance, he called 1200 into a 3400 pot (600 preflop, 400 postflop, 600 bet on the turn, 1800 raise). Technically, he is not getting odds to call for the flush draw (only), but then again, he may've had a pair also, or overcards, or whatever. The point is, sometimes players call the raise on their bet a bit too quick without considering whether it is advisable. Now, a re-raise is another thing, but a call is often made by players with draws or other bad hands who aren't ready to admit that they were wrong to bet out in the first place.

Eventually, I busted three spots from the money in 12th place. I was a shortstack and pushed in MP with QTc, hoping to take down the blinds. I was called by KQo and that was it. I was a bit disappointed in how I went out, but I needed to make a move, and I figured that QTc was likely to be called by a hand that did not dominate (like Ace-high). It just didn't work out that time. I was playing for first, after all, and not for 9th.

That's all for today. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:33 PM,


At 3:35 PM, Blogger CzechRazor said...

I fired all two huge bullets and went all-in before taking down the pot with Ace-high.

Isn't that the best feeling? I used to love doing that in the Bodog 2/3 NL games, then showing the bluff and playing a TAG game against fish for the rest of the session. It takes most players a LONG time to realize it was just a one-off bluff and not the way you play all the time.


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