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On Poker: 3 scenarios that justify running a bluff

November 25, 2017 GMT

When you bluff at a pot in a poker game, you do it for only one reason: to get your opponents to fold. That’s why it’s important to really pick your spots -- because there are a lot of temptations out there that can blow up in your face.

Here are some scenarios, inspired by examples from “The Book of Bluffs,” by Matt Lessinger, where throwing out a bluff attempt should come naturally:

1. Checking it twice

Somebody limped into the pot, and you follow suit with Qs-10s (one of my personal favorite hands) and then, for whatever reason, the blinds follow along and everybody sees a flop for the minimum. This is good news, because just like that, you have the advantage of position.

The flop is an 8d-4h-2s dud ... the blinds check, the opponent in front of you checks and you check. The turn is the 8c, and again, everybody checks to you. You should strongly consider betting.

Why this works: Nobody is slow-playing anything or even attempting to add value to the pot. They just want to move on to the next hand. And when you bet, they may even suspect that you are indeed bluffing, but it’s usually still not worth it for them to attempt to find out.

Why it may not work: One of these opponents may be really savvy, and re-bluff your bluff and end up being the one who forces you to fold. It happens.

2. Flushed

A player makes a standard raise, and it’s folded around to you on the button and you call with Kd-10c, while the blinds disappear. The flop comes out Qc-7c-5h. Your opponent bets at the pot, and you call. The turn produces the 5c and your opponent bets again, but it’s a bit smaller in ratio than the flop bet. This is the perfect time to open the bluff gates with a good-size bet.

Why this works: You can get credit for two things: making the flush, and hitting the miracle trip fives. The call of the flop bet makes it very reasonable to believe that you are chasing either option.

Why it may not work: There’s always a chance that the bet was smaller because the opponent made a nut flush or he or she is holding a big pocket pair and is willing to see it through.

3. Big blind disguise

Two players limp into a hand, and the small blind competes the bet into your big blind. Your hand is a garbage 9c-4d, so you check your option and all four players get to see the flop.

Let’s assume that it’s a total miss, with 10s-7c-2h. The small blind is first to act, and if that player checks to you, toss out a bet, because there’s a good chance the table will fold around to it. If this works, you get 4-to-1 on your money.

Why this works: Because you could literally be holding anything, even something as big as a set. The early limpers probably had suited connecting cards or some sort of paint combination that missed the flop entirely. This flop missed flush-draw chasers, and the odds of someone holding 9-8 for an open-ended straight draw is very low.

Why this may not work: Players with two overcards often believe that the turn will connect with one of them for top pair.