BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: OCT. 11, 2011
Iowa Player’s Bluff Took Poker Face & Telling Believable Story
Is the art of a well-timed bluff getting shoved aside by the aggressive raising and re-raising tactics used today by so many no-limit Texas hold ‘em players? Not for this tournament player in Iowa.
Q: “I really wasn’t catching great cards the other night, but I still took first-place money thanks in part to a few well-timed bluffs. This means my game is improving, right?” — Bob R. in Davenport, Iowa.
A: Based on your 2011 stats showing a modest profit after 26 tournaments, I’d say there’s no question you’re playing better than a year ago.
“I can’t really point out what I’m doing differently, but I seem to be more in tune with what the other players are doing now than I used to be,” you wrote. “I try to pay attention, even when I fold before the flop, which is most of the time.”
That’s experience kicking in, Bob, and it’s starting to pay off for you.
As an example, let’s look at that vital hand you won with just four players left and only the top three getting paid.
You called pre-flop with 8-9 suited, then led out on the flop and turn, even though the jack-high board hadn’t helped your hand at all.
“He was just calling, so on the river (another rag), I bet 6,000 into a pot of about 15,000,” you said. “He thought and thought. I believe he had a small pair and was tempted to call, but he was facing someone who had been betting all through the hand. He eventually folded (thank goodness), and I collected a really nice pot.”
Your strategy probably wouldn’t have worked if your opponent had put in a big steal raise at any point in the hand. Happily for you, he wasn’t one of the growing number of wild-betting players populating the game today.
So, aside from your apparent good poker face, there were several reasons you won that pot, Bob.
For one thing, the four of you were on the money bubble, meaning the next player to bust out would get nothing, while the other three would share a total of about $700. Many players play cautiously when the money’s that close.
Next, although you didn’t raise pre-flop, you aggressively bet into your opponent on each of the three remaining betting rounds. Your bets told a story — “I have Q-J in my hand and flopped top pair” — that your opponent found believable.
Perhaps most importantly, you made the play against an opponent willing to give you credit for a hand.
“The guy I was up against had been chip leader or close to it at my table for most of the tournament. I noticed he was a pretty good player who never called with junk. I think a worse player might have made that call,” you said.
Because you weren’t catching very many playable hands earlier in the tournament, this opponent had watched you fold most of your hands pre-flop. He formed an image of you as someone who, in that particular spot, almost certainly had him beat, probably with a pair of jacks. You exploited that image perfectly.
This hand is a good example of a well-timed bluff — a critical weapon for times when you’re catching bad cards but need to build your chip stack.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
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