This is about a very specific type of situation, so please keep in mind that this question/thought does not refer to most bluffing, especially on Replay. Most players on Replay and in most poker games do not bluff often enough: they do not check-raise as a bluff often, they do not overbet as a bluff often. So, against most players it is smart to overfold when they show aggression, meaning that you can safely fold many very strong hands like top pair decent kicker or in some situations even an overpair or two pair. You can feel confident folding really good hands in the knowledge that for every one time that they are bluffing or overvaluing their hand, they have the nuts twenty times. Also, most players that bluff do so very badly, telling stories that don’t make sense and generally doing it so often that you can call very loose against these specific players. But, this general strategy (overfolding against most and calling light against maniacs) has become a lazy default in my game.
Good poker players and top players on Replay, such as top 10 players like ilovecat or idiotplayer (and other current players who will go unnamed), make polarizing bets and apply pressure in situations where they know that most decent players will fold too often for the reasons I listed above. Polarizing means that they have either a bluff or a very strong hand. Because they are somewhat balanced between bluffs and value, it forces you to consider folding strong hands and bluffcatching with weak hands. This is the most difficult situation to face in poker because it forces you to evaluate your hand within your range. So the question is, are there any rules of thumb or mathematical principals to apply to these decisions? For example, should you call with top pair any kicker and fold worse (which is probably folding too much against some players) or call with second or third pair (calling too much against most players)? It takes cognitive energy to evaluate where I am in my range and sometimes makes me second guess my gut and make a bad decision, but that seems to be the approach needed. I’d also like to incorporate their polarizing bet strategy into my game, but my bluffs always seem to get called here because people call too much in general.
Here are some examples of hands like this. In the first case I folded incorrectly (Kc9h). My gut said to call, but the fact that I called all previous bets seemed to indicate that I was likely to call the river, so why would they be bluffing? The fact that the flush draw missed makes it a prime bluffing spot. In the second hand I caught a bluff with a much weaker hand than I had in the previous hand. Sometimes ace high can be enough to call if your opponent is polarized, but it is a really bad habit to bluff catch too much with such a weak hand.
Obviously, there cannot be a constant rule because every opponent is different and other factors like board texture and position are key for these decisions, but I’m trying to think about the whole range more conceptually to decide what kinds of hands in what spots to continue with and which to fold. For example, on dynamic/draw heavy board textures call down lighter with marginal value hands like second pair but fold these hands on drier boards. I’m going to have combos of most sets and top pairs on most boards, so I can have monsters and hands with showdown value to call down with, but calling down with say top pair 76 on a 6 high board seems dicier.
Other important factors to consider are how many big hands are they repping and if I have blockers to their value or bluff hands. On dry boards like 773, they can have only a few massively strong combos, and they would be less likely to bet huge with monsters because their opponent can’t have much to call with, but some players will also bet huge on this board with 99 because they can get called by smaller pairs or even Ax. Maybe just becoming familiar with the tendencies of each opponent would be more useful, given how few players make these plays.
I’m also interested in feedback on my specific plays, like calling a 3-bet OOP w K9o and check-calling down with AQs being particularly marginal decisions, but ones that made some sense in these specific situations.