How to catch a bluff at Texas Hold'em


Two important skills in poker are bluffing and catching bluffers.

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Bluffing From the Blind in Tournament Play

When I am in a good chip position while playing in a tournament I will occasionally attack from the blind position. The setting has to be right though. Usually, I'll only become very aggressive from this position when I've recently had to showdown a couple of big (winning) hands.

I set things up in advance. I fold my blinds to aggressive betting regularly unless I have a really good hand. I will have played at least one dominant hand (in a similar fashion) to a showdown from the blind prior to making this move.

I make the decision to attack based on the action of the moment. I like a call and a raise ahead of me. The pot has to be worth the gamble. My starting cards don't matter but a decent hand is always nice.

If the raiser is an aggressive player, I make my move.

I re-raise at least twice the size of the pot. This maneuver usually takes the pot pre-flop but if I get a call I will fire again after the flop regardless of the cards on the table. The second raise will almost always win the pot.

On the rare occasion when I get called again, I fire a third time after the turn. 99% of the time the third volley will force the fold. The opponent rarely credits you with the guts to fire three big bets on a flat out bluff.

The trick is to look strong. Post flop, your bets have to be the right amounts. An overbet after the turn will look like a desperation bluff and will undoubtedly entice a call. Pot sized bets, or a little less, are usually best to give the impression that you want a call.

Sure, I get caught once in a while but anyone who bluffs regularly gets trapped occasionally. Pulling off this bluff is a huge rush! Your stack will love it too!

Catching and Manipulating the Bluffer in Nickle and Dime No Limit

I never bluff in penny ante no limit cash games at Carbon Poker. Well, that may be a stretch.

While I rarely bluff in these games, I do semi-bluff once in a while. However, at this level, the real money is won not by bluffing but by catching the bluff. Bluffers at this level are easy to catch and easy to trick.

Example

I have J,J and raise 4X the BB. Mr LA (Loose Aggressive) calls. The flop is K,8,3 rainbow. I check. LA bets twice the pot, he's obviously representing the King.

I know from watching him play that he likes A,X and would have bet hard with A,K. I haven't seen him play many junk Kings and since he didn't re-raise pre-flop he does not have a big pocket pair.

I put him on Ace, rag. He may have caught a middle pair with his rag, that would be nice. I come over the top with a big re-raise.

My check after the flop indicated I missed the flop and invited LA to bluff at the pot.

My post flop re-raise makes him pay dearly if he wants to try and hit his weak ace. If he has a piece of the flop (8's or 3's), he may call (putting me on a bluff too) and pay me off.

The best part of this deal is, LA will bluff again, soon. He isn't even aware that I have a read on him.



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