A Look Inside

I get called an idiot a lot, and usually deserve it. I thought it might be interesting to show a recent hand and explain why I played the way I played. I’m not looking for praise or confirmation, and clearly don’t deserve it. Anyway, here’s the hand…


Sick, yes it was sick, but you have to understand the situation. First, this was a 25K buyin SnG that pays the top 3 spots. Everyone was limping and folding way too much to any raise, so I decided to take a shot at it.

I didn’t think anyone had AA, KK, or AK, AQ, or much of anything really. On the other hand, I had shown a bluff or 2, so was more likely to get called light, which is what happened.

Being first to act after the flop is an advantage to me because it allows me to take control of the action. If I check, the guy would shove and I would have to fold, right? I had a pair, so might well have been ahead. So I moved in. This pretty much forces the guy to have a K, possibly a set of 5s. What King hands would he limp, then call allin for his tournament life?

I wasn’t betting my hand, I was betting he didn’t have a king. I was wrong, and he was sort of pot committed, so he called. Oops! I figure I’m gonna win that hand most of the time preflop or on the flop just by betting. I’m not guessing here, I know this is true.

So he calls and I have to hit. I was in rough shape, but I got lucky. OK, I actually mentally willed the other 2 to come. Being a powerful wizard has its perks, you know? haha.

Of course, they (and probably you) think I’m an idiot. I can live with that. Anyway, this was the sort of things that were going through my head. There is a method behind the madness.

I am cringing at the thought of the comments that will follow, if any. Bring it on, let’s talk about it.


The reason I posted this is to encourage people to think outside the box. Poker isn’t just a game of stats and percentages, it’s a game of people. It’s a game of situations, and of exploiting those situations where you can.

This specific form of insanity has another benefit. This is what I call “range distortion.” I don’t want to dis my opponent here, but I don’t think he was putting me on a hand at all. However, I knew at least 1 or 2 of the other players were.

Win this hand or lose it, I was planting a seed, and making it much harder to put me on a hand. (Had he folded, I would have showed) Farmers spend a lot of money to plant seeds, and they do so expecting to reap much more than they sow. The same is true of crazy plays… as long as you know people will notice and remember.

Anyway, I am willing to spend a few chips to get the “any cards, any position” mental tag. I’ve switched from MTTs to SnGs, and see the same people all the time. I think it’s well worth the cost to distort my perceived range, so I do.

By the way, I did go on to win this one, and I am convinced that this hand had something to do with it. Have fun and don’t be afraid to be a little creative now and then.



Money for nothin’, chips for free. RPP, it is what it is.



I might have done what you did, but in the opponents place, I would definitely have folded my pair of kings at the flop with no flush or straight draw, suspecting that I was up against AK. In fact I would probably have folded preflop, knowing that the odds were against the flop hitting me, and I would have to fold at the flop anyway.

But you never know on ReplayPoker. Maybe the opponent’s wife was calling him for supper. Maybe he was reading something else on the other side of the screen.

The other day I limped in from early position with AJ, flop comes JJ8, and I become pot committed by two bets on the flop and turn, which a single opponent called. I was not paying much attention, so when he shoved on the river, I called off the rest of my chips, and found he had hit a gutshot straight on the river to make an 8-high straight. C’est le poker!

Box? We don’t need no stinkin’ box!

I’m trying to get a conversation going about bluffing in general. The hand I posted was a perfectly good bluff gone horribly awry. Eh, it happens.

I think it would be interesting to talk about who, where, when, and why we bluff, and also how often. I see a lot of newer players who never bluff. I see people who bluff way too much. Like many things, it’s a matter of balance.

Just as a point of reference, I’ve played 29 25K SnGs so far this week, and won 9 of them. I don’t know how many 2nd and 3rd places finishes I’ve had, but there were some of those too. Don’t assume I rely solely on luck, because I don’t.

I’m not the best player on this site, far from it. There’s always something new to learn, so I like to talk poker. Let’s talk about bluffing!!

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I seriously misread the player here, and it almost cost me the game. Only stupid luck saved the day. I thought he probably had a weak ace or small pair, and would fold. I just didn’t have a good feel for the way he was playing.

I don’t think he could hit his top card, then fold though. He had more than half his chips in the pot, he almost had to call.

This is the danger of projection. Without knowing anything about him, I assumed his approach to the game was something like my own. It wasn’t.

Knowing who to bluff and when are important parts of the game. I blew this one on both counts. Eh, live and learn.

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Somewhere in the novel “The Cincinnati Kid,” Jessup (the author) has his leading villain say “Kid, the difference between being good and great is knowing when to do the wrong thing at the right time.”
I’d say “you did great.”


As someone who is happy to run without the ball myself, I like the thought of looking for good spots to bluff but I really dislike your hand selection at these stack depths. Villain misplayed the hand from the start but if you looked at his stack size, you should have folded your hand. You left him with only 2 logical choices when you raised, fold or shove. If you did not want to be playing for his entire stack, you really shouldn’t have gotten involved. If you did want to play for his stack, you shove. Since you wouldn’t shove with 4/2o, you have to fold the hand preflop.

Since I don’t know the player, I have no way of knowing whether he was limp/folding too much before this hand. In general, people here don’t fold preflop nearly enough once they have decided to play their cards. I can’t understand him just calling you there with so little left behind. I also don’t know why he limped in that hand to begin with being so short. K7s is an ok open if a little deeper but with his remaining stack, I think its just a little too weak to shove - so its a fold.

As you have pointed out in the past, everything in poker is situational. I think this was a mistake because the situation should have brought stacks into the middle. The fact that he misplayed the hand so badly or the result don’t justify making this play at this time with this hand. Just my opinion.

Here is a hand that went badly for me from the other night. https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/479085327
When running plays at these stakes, its better to have some equity, even if you don’t have a made hand. I fired off my stack here but at stacks that allowed for making a play and with tons of equity, picking up a gutshot to the nuts on the flop and the open-ender on the turn. I knew she didn’t have a K when she tried to slow me down with a min-bet on the turn.


I agree 100%. I did expect him to fold pre, but yeah, it was a risk. Had I had more time to think it over, I wouldn’t have raised preflop, period. I should have folded faster than rice paper at an origami competition.

Still, I do see a benefit beyond the hand. Also, there is a reason I only share my worst hands here. :stuck_out_tongue:

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If you have a bigger-picture strategy, then it makes more sense. I remember from the time I spent playing the 25K SnG’s that it was a lot of the same players all the time. I’m not sure how many pay attention or are capable of adapting - I guess you’ll find out. In general, when playing tournaments I am always adjusting my ranges to take into account any shovable stacks left to act. With 50BB, I can open T8s from the HJ. With players left under 15BB, that becomes dangerous. I can’t afford to open/fold a lot and I certainly don’t want to be forced to call with T-high because I’m priced in. I just avoid the situation entirely and fold otherwise very playable hands.

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Yeah, I do have a bigger picture strategy. One other thing though, I don’t like to linger. Put me in a position to win or put me out. That seemed like a good spot to steal, even though I see now it wasn’t all that great.

There was at least 1 or 2 people at the table that I have seen near the top of the leaderbords a lot. I have to assume they pay attention. So if you’re trying to set an image, semi-bluffing with a good draw doesn’t get it done. Being totally out of line with absolute garbage is more memorable. (haha)

Equity? I don’t want no stinkin’ equity!

Anyway, it was a misread on my part all the way around. Misread the situation, misread the player, misread his ability to fold, misread his hand strength.

But do remember one important thing… the universe loves me and wants me to be happy!

The hand you showed was interesting. Cudos for continuing after you got called on the flop. Yeah, you had outs, but that would have been a tuff shove for me.

The shove was designed to fold out all 1-pair and drawing hands that continued past the flop. It would be hard to even call that with Tx (top pair on the flop) since I’m representing I have AK or better. In the rare cases where she flopped a monster (sets+) and slow-played them, I still had outs. If monsters were 15% of her entire range and Tx was another 10%, the shove should have folded out 75% of her hands. For it to have been profitable, it only needed to work a little less than 50% of the time. In the cases where I was called, I had substantial equity vs all her possible holdings. I had 14 outs vs most of her 1-pair hands and 8 outs vs her sets.

All told, it was a really easy shove for me in this spot. I had no showdown value and was at the very bottom of my range - but with outs. If I was going to play the top of my range this way (AA, KK, TT, AK), I have to blend in some hands like this one so people can’t exploitatively fold on all my shoves.


Given that you decided to bluff this hand and that the stack depths are so short (you have 9BB, main villain has about 5BB), I’m curious why you didn’t shove preflop in order to maximize fold equity at that point?


The fact that you posted this hand shows that you know there is more to Poker than the math.
Half of the fun of Poker is in those moments when you feel you have a actionable edge because you sense the mood of the table, the situation and the opponent.
The additional fact that you posted a hand that makes your senses appear less than accurate only adds to the unpredictability you radiate.
Swinging away when everyone in the stadium is expecting a bunt has value beyond the immediate situation.
The real difference between a donk and a loose aggressive is the degree of predictability.

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I mean, who hasn’t blundered and then sucked out because it was just your day to win?


I don’t think it would have made a difference. If he’s going to call over half his stack, he would have called it all too. I had seen him limp/fold often enough that I thought it was worth a shot.

The BB was yet to act, and had me covered. I usually want to risk as little as possible to accomplish my goals, at least in a tournament situation. I would have folded had either of them moved in preflop, goofy as that might be.

Once the BB was out of the way, I thought the other guy most likely had a weak ace or smallinsh pair, and that he most likely missed the flop and would have to fold.

Anyway, let’s move past the hand I showed and talk about bluffing in general. What kinds of things should we be thinking about before making a bluff? What makes a good bluffing situation good?

That is exactly what I want to radiate!

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I know lol!
If, at the table you only show the cards you want us to see, it follows that you’ll do the same in the forums.
And even though we know you’re planting things in our heads, we can’t do a thing about it. We can’t un-watch that hand.
Great thread. Poker is psychological warfare and most of us are weaponless.

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Well, you kinda hurt my feelings by even suggesting I could be so devious! (cough)

A few years ago, I was watching Phil Hellmuth on some televised high stakes cash game. He made a goofy play with some hand like 84o or the like, but he made doubly sure the cards were visible to the holecam, got up and talked to the host, and generally called as much attention to his stupidity as humanly possible.

I was wondering why on earth he would do such a thing. Then the light bulb went off.

He was willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to plant a seed. It’s a play he would never make in a private game, and one he would rarely, if ever make in an actual tournament. He did it on TV, in front of a much wider audience in order to maximize his return.

Anyway, I thought it was brilliant, and I bet those who saw it are more likely to pay off his monster hands from now until the end of time.

By the way, you are the 2nd person to work it out, good job!