You can fool some people sometimes

In the interest of transparency, I’d like to post two examples of bluffs I’ve run that have been called. Both are from a session that I played this morning, and while I lost chips on these two hands, overall the session was profitable, picking up about 300K (75BB) over ~200 hands at the 2K-4K tables.

Hand #1: I’m holding 8 :heart: 5 :heart: in the big blind, 4-handed. Cutoff flats, button folds, SB flats, and I check my option. Board comes T :heart: T :clubs: 5 :spades:. SB folds, I minbet into a 3BB pot (as I would with most holdings, including when I make a pair on a paired board), and the cutoff calls. Turn is (T :heart: T :clubs: 5 :spades:) 3 :heart:. I opt to bet about 2/3 pot with my pair and baby flush draw. Cutoff min-raises me. I call. The pot is now about 18BB.

At this point, I have a plan for most rivers. If a ten or a five comes, I’m going to lead out and hope for a call, likely calling a re-raise. With a heart that’s 9 or higher, I’ll lead out as well. With an A, 2, 4, 6, or 7 of hearts, I’ll check, hoping my opponent will bluff a straight, and raise, calling a re-raise. A 3 will cause me to check-fold. An 8 will lead me to check-call. Finally, with a blank, I’ll look to check-raise as well.

The river actually comes (T :heart: T :clubs: 5 :spades: 3 :heart:) J :spades:. In keeping with my plan, I check to the cutoff, who fires out a pot-sized bet. I bump it up to 47.5BB - slightly more than a half-pot reraise. When the cutoff jams, I fold.

On this hand, you could probably make the argument that I’m bluffing way too much in this spot. I’ll probably play most of my heart flush draws like this, and maybe 64 as well.

Hand #2: I’m dealt A :clubs: J :diamonds:, again in the big blind. We’re now nine-handed, and by the time the action gets to me, I’m looking at 4 callers and a folded small blind. Since I’ll be playing this hand out of position, I try to raise on the larger side - 5.5x. Somehow, only one of the four callers finds the fold button.

When the flop comes 7 :clubs: T :spades: 6 :clubs:, I have two overcards and a backdoor nut flush draw. Time to keep telling my story. I lead out with a bet of roughly 2/3 pot - 65K into 94.5K. The primary villain (UTG+1) calls, and the other two players fold.

The turn, (7 :clubs: T :spades: 6 :clubs:) Q :spades:, creates a backdoor flush draw, while giving me an inside broadway draw. I continue for 140K into a pot of 224.5K. On this street, I was concerned about my opponent’s stack size. If I bet much bigger, then he’ll be pot-committed by the river and won’t fold to any bluffs. However, if I go much smaller, then I lose out on fold equity on this street. In any case, he calls, and we’re looking at a pot of just under 500K for the river, while he has about 225K behind.

The river is (7 :clubs: T :spades: 6 :clubs: Q :spades:) 7 :heart:. None of the draws have gotten there, and the paired board now brings the possibility of a set becoming a boat or quads beating a straight. I jam, and the villain calls, showing J :clubs: J :hearts:.

I really don’t like this call by the villain for a few reasons. He loses to any queen, a straight, and of course boats and quads. Also, he’s blocking most of the bluff hands that I could have - there are now significantly fewer combinations of AJ and KJ, just one combination of JTs, and any flush draw containing the jack of clubs. If I had 88 or 99 I’d probably check on either turn or river rather than continue to barrel.

In any case, he called, and I lost a rather large pot.

Now, what should we take away from this?

First, I don’t regret my plays here (except maybe I was too bluffy with 85 in the first hand). By bluffing in these spots, and announcing my holdings, it makes it more likely that I’ll get paid off when I do have strong value hands. I shouldn’t be results-oriented, calling these “bad” bluffs because they were called; rather, I need to analyze whether I’m bluffing too much in these spots, and that the decision-making behind them was sound.

Second, that I recognized where I had draws, reevaluating the board on each street. In these cases, I made the decision to build a pot on earlier streets based on those draws. That resulted in a pot that was worth bluffing at by the river - or would have been nice to scoop if the draws had come in. It also builds the story that every hand I’m in, I could make a play for your stack. You can’t do that if you play passively through the turn, waiting only to start bluffing or value-betting when all the cards are on the table.

Third, that it’s important to have (reasonable) bluffs in your range when you bet on the river. Yes, in these two instances they didn’t work out, but often - particularly when I’m firing across multiple streets - I’ll get folds and a healthy pot.

Finally, that I’m human. Sometimes my bluffs get called. Other times my opponents fold to my value bets. The key is to play a balanced strategy so that my bluffs are credible and my value bets are callable. This last point is incredibly important, and it’s how I was able to end the session up overall, despite getting two large bluffs called.

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Interesting read, given that I’ve also been having trouble lately with bluffing.

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Nice post.

For hand #1 I agree that it could be easy to over-bluff because your starting range is going to be crazy wide since you checked the big blind. It really depends how wide you’re going with your bluffs on the flop. If on the flop you only bet with 1 pair+bdfd or better then by the turn you have to bet all of your flush draws in order to get enough bluffs.

Two questions for you, applicable on both hands:

  1. What are the value hands in your range on each street?
  2. What do you think villain’s range is by the river? Which parts of this range do you think will fold to your river bet?
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In Hand#1 It would be helpful to know the effective stack size for Hero and all villains in the hand. It would also help if you had any history with villain to give a description of your read on his play style in general and in this particular session. And I always have to have one nit pick lol, continuity in your HH history makes it easier to follow i.e. using the same way of describing action. In parts of the hand you say I bet 2/3 pot and others you give an amount in bb’s. It makes it a little harder to follow. Like I said that’s a little nit picky.

Pre flop… I’m okay with x pre here in the bb sometimes but wouldn’t mind opening 8h5h either as I think it plays well post flop and it is only 8 high plus I want to punish (charge) the cutoff as much as possible for limping.

OTF… I like lead and size for value vs v’s who over limp w/broadways and call too wide post and there are lots of turns we don’t like so winning now is okay.

OTT… I am okay with betting here as well, though I don’t think we need to be sizing up. We’re more betting to deny equity and continuing for 1/3 gets that done pretty well. V should be folding all of his floats/air now and you block bdfd pretty heavily having hearts in your hand. There isn’t much we can get value from here as even most of his 5’s have us out kicked. As played this is where it would be nice to have effective stacks for calculating implied odds for your fd after getting min raised. I’m okay with the call over all though as we did pick up some equity with the fd and I wouldn’t expect this turn to have improved V a lot. If he has a T we have a flush out that is counterfeited to full houses or is blocked so one out is dead.

OTR… I really think this is just a x/f. After we lead pot and call a raise v should have less incentive to bluff. Plus it’s really kind of hard to find natural bluffs as the flop was a paired rainbow board and we block bdfd and is he really floating the flop with bd st8 draws on TT5, I would like x/r a little better if you had 8c5c unblocking hearts. Just fold.

As it’s pretty late here and I’m out of bed (should have never touched this damned computer) and pretty tired the rest of the post is tl;dr. I will read it tomorrow sometime and give thoughts on Hand#2. Thanks for your frequent post in the forums, they definitely add tons of value to them. Cheers.

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V descriptors would be nice to have here. How wide is he limping the CO? If it were me I would start otf with something like all his T’s and 5’s, all his baby pairs, bdfd’s, bdsd’s and overs. Giving him a wide range because well, he limped the CO. So 55, AT-T8, all suited T, 77-66, AK, KQ+, QJ+ and some hands with bdsd’s that are more likely to be suited imo.

On the turn the 3h shouldn’t be a card that improves V much at all, this with H sizing up his bet should get V off of any kind of fancy play but he clicks it back instead. H heavily blocks fd’s so this weights V to value. V is rep trips or better here, I would give him 55, all his T’s and expect him to just call with his one pair hands. Is he really calling the flop with 64, 76, 74, 42 or even limping these hands pre flop and if so semi bluffing them for a min raise now. I think is’s asking for a lot.

On the river he really only has value and a good amount, especially if he’s limping all his broadway T off suits. The only real bluffs I can see are like AhKh AhQh KhQh which these seem likely opens pre. The others paired the J and should x back river.

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@WannabeCoder - I meant to post a response to these hands earlier but have been swamped. I’ll try to get more into the details and data later but wanted to give a brief thought or two while its still fresh. There are significant issues with these hands, both theoretical and practical. The one that stands out most is in hand #2 where you don’t seem to have made an adjustment for this being a multiway pot. The UTG+1 player specifically should have an incredibly strong/condensed range to have flatted your c-bet with 2 players left to act behind him. This is even more the case if we assume he is a typical tight/passive player with a reasonable open-limp/call range.

If anyone wants to pick up on these thoughts in the meanwhile, that would be great. If anyone thinks I am wrong in my initial statements, that would be great to hear as well. As always, I want to make clear that my purpose when posting here is to go through thought processes. This is the way every player learns. Anyway, I am glad some people are using this Forum to post hands and work through them with others.

ADDED: With a skill edge and your knowledge of theory, I think you should avoid the full ring tables and spend your time on the 4 or 6 max ones. You want to be where you have a chance to gets heads-up more frequently. What’s the point in having an edge if you put yourself on tables where its blunted by multiple callers every hand? You don’t need to nut-hunt so put your edges to work on tables where you’ll have those opportunities most often.



Pre flop… AJo is a fairly marginal hand to say the least and not fun to play oop in multiway pots. I feel it’s okay to x option here and see if you smash a flop. I lean more towards opening though but I don’t think with 4 limpers to you 5.5x is nearly large enough to get folds. I would go no less that 7.5x (30K) but don’t even a little bigger, 8.5x. Calling 16K to win 40K is just too appealing to your opponents who are obviously looking to see flops.

Flop… this is a board that is the opposite of smashing our range, in fact it smashes theirs. I absolutely hate continuing here into 4 opponents. I’m sure you can have all the nutted hands, i.e. the 98s straights and all the sets, but they can have all of them as well and are more likely too since you’re weighted more towards over pairs and broadways and they are weighted the opposite, most 3! QQ+. They also have a lot of the 2 pair combos you won’t have. As a bet I don’t think 2/3 is accomplishing anything that 1/3 or bets on future streets won’t. If you’re betting here I’m assuming the plan is to run a multi street bluff into multiple opponents with A high?

Turn… UTG1 limp/called pre and then called a pretty sizable bet on the flop. I think this narrows his range a lot and we need to have very specific information that this opponent will fold over pairs and top/top type hands. I just don’t know why we have to do this when we don’t even have any blockers to the nut hands on this board. Anyway, continuing our story, if we plan to bluff good cards for our range on the river i.e. any club, A’s K’s then I think we definitely need to down bet here. Something like 1/3p or 80K-90K. 220K in the pot +80K bet and 80K call makes pot 380K and leaves V with 285K or about a 3/4p bluff bet on the river.

River… paired board cards are terrible cards to bluff on the river. It removes 2 sets and 7h6h from your value combos and it’s just not a card you would want to pile money in when you’ve been called 3 times already. V has to call 225K to win a pot of 1050K so he only needs to be right 1 out of 4 times or even slightly less than that and AK missed clubs missed. I just don’t think at this price you’re getting any folds from V’s pairs.

I think you may have been a victim of FPS (fancy play syndrome) here on this one. I like the meta game idea that we can get lighter calls in the future but that depends on our opponents awareness at the table. I lot of these players are not nuanced enough to pick up on stuff like that unless you’re way over bluffing to the point it’s obvious. Maybe for the next orbit or two we can get some light value though. Thanks a lot for sharing, it’s tough letting people dissect your actions in public and takes an extra ounce of guts to post two HH you not only lost, but lost by bluffing and getting caught.