Bluff Tough

With a large stack, The Poker Model allows for a wider range of plays. While these plays may look like bluffs, they are well thought out and calculated. In today’s hand, I’ll execute what might look like a bluff, but follow through as if it were any standard play once it fails to get my opponent to fold.

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I’m on The Big Blind (TBB) holding Kh-4h with $32,000 chips and blinds at $200/$400. I have 80 big blinds, a large stack according to The Poker Model. Kh-4h is typically a hand that I will fold and most likely will on this one. Like always, I must see what action occurs before making my decision.

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The action folds to The Button (TB) who makes a minimum raise to $800, followed by a fold from The Small Blind (TSB). With a small or medium stack, I would bow out of the hand right now and let The Button (TB) steal the blinds. But with a larger stack, The Poker Model offers me more options. See the key variables in my decision making process below:

  • I have a large stack (+50 big blinds): Losing a small pot with a large stack is merely a chink in the armor, it will not make or break my tournement. Be mindful, however, not to get carried away with this fact and continue to make thoughtful plays.
  • My opponent does not have a large stack (<50 big blinds): Losing a small pot for my opponent is more than a chink in his armor, it will force him to pull off a miraculous bluff or actually have a hand to play back at me.
  • We are heads up: With only two players in the hand I only need to make one player fold.
  • We are in late table position: It is far more likely that my opponent is trying to steal the blinds with a weak hand than if he had raised from middle or early table position.

My options based on the above according to The Poker Model:

  • Fold: There is no shame in folding, even with a large stack and it is certainly an option.
  • Call: I can call the raise and look to make a play on The Flop.
  • Raise: I can raise and try to win the pot right now.

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I choose to raise to $2,000. This raise should tell me if my opponent has a hand or not. If my opponent folds, then my raise was successful and I’ll win the pot right now. If my opponent raises me back (4-bets), then I’ll have to assume that he had a big hand and my timing was unlucky and must fold the hand. I do not expect him to call because that will leave him close to the short stack threshold (20 big blinds) and facing a potential continuation bet on The Flop.

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My opponent makes an unexpected call and we move to The Flop where the action is on me. Once we go to The Flop, all Pre-Flop action is important, but not held on to when it comes to evaluating hand strength. We must reassess our hand at this point and detach ourselves of its value Pre-Flop.

The Flop comes Ad-4s-Qc. I’ve gotten myself in a tricky situation by making a calculated move during Phase #2 – Pre-Flop. Like with all other hands, however, I must still qualify my hand. I have 3rd pair, which is a bad hand according to The Poker Model. With bad hands I want to bet on The Flop to win the pot right now. How my bet is received will determine future action. So even though my plan was unsuccessful in Phase #2, I should still make a bet with a bad hand in Phase #3 and potentially win.

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I make a continuation bet of about ⅓ the size of my opponent’s stack. This bet will allow me to fold if my opponent moves all-in over the top and I will not be pot committed. It will allow me to find out if he has it or not.  If he moves all-in, then I’ll know he hit The Flop and I can fold. If he calls, then I will give up on the hand unless I improve on The Turn. If he folds then I’ll complete my bluff and win a nice pot.

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My opponent folds and I win with K-4. My hope from this post is that you will see that this play was planned out from the start. I had enough factors working in my favor to attempt a bluff Pre-Flop. Even after an unexpected call, I was still able to follow through with my bad hand on The Flop and win, even though K-4 is a poor starting hand during the Pre-Flop phase. Remember to review the information in front of you when attempting plays like this; do not randomly decide that it’s time to try it out and you’ll be bluffing tough and winning in no time.

Brett

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