Big bluffs and the importance of perceived image

Big bluffs and the importance of perceived image

Thursday, 21 July 2011

believe he is beat. Bluff Poker Academy tutor Paul Zimbler assesses the importance of image to getting a big bluff through.

The biggest factor when considering an all in shove with stone-cold nothing on the river is the likelihood of whether your opponent will believe he is beat. There are many elements that shape your image in your opponent’s head. The previous action in the hand must write a story that is convincing and says to your opponent: “My hand is great, so please call me!”If a player has doubts about your holding, his curiosity may encourage a call, even if he thinks he may be beat. Therefore, a solid back story to your all in bet on the river is essential for executing a successful bluff. If you can build up a table image of being tight-aggressive (with an emphasis on tight), you are more likely to get away with your bluffs.

By making sure that when you do show a hand, it’s strong and close to “the nuts” (even showing the occasional big lay-down), opponents will believe that when you bet big, it’s with the strong hand you’ve been waiting for to double up or eliminate your opponent. If, on the other hand, you have been caught bluffing or showed a bluff previously, you will have created the doubt in their mind that will help them lean towards calling your bluff.

Let’s take a look at an example. Your stack is 35,200, while the big blind has 32,000. It’s nine-handed and, with blinds of 200/400 and an ante of 50, you bet 1,100 from the highjack position with suited connectors. The big blind calls with Jh10c.

On a flop of KcJd5d, your opponent check-calls your continuation bet of 2,000. The pot is now 7,250 and we go to the turn.

The 7c looks like a safe card for us so we decide to double-barrel, betting 5,500. Again, our opponent calls and we see the river.

The river is a blank. All potential draws have missed and at no point has your opponent attempted to protect his hand from the draws on the board, leading you to believe he has a marginal hand at best. Your stack is 26,600, your opponent’s is 23,400 and the pot 18,250 so you move all-in. Your opponent folds.

This river bet bluff can only be made successfully if the player in the BB believes you are over-betting for value to get paid off, as the vast majority of potential draws have missed. You are still representing the strong hand you suggested all the way from pre-flop. If this is combined with an image of a tight player who is waiting for the right time to get his chips in with the best hand, then it looks like you liked the blank card on the river.

Obviously, there are many other considerations, including your opponent’s range and his ability lay down a marginal hand. But what you need to do is try to think about what your opponents see when they look at you and the bet in front of you. If that image is intimidating then it may be time to make that big bluff.

Tags: Strategy, Paul Zimbler