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Things it took me a while to learn P.21 Catching bluffs from weak players

Bond18 The title of this entry into the series must seem odd at first glance. Since when do weak players do all that much bluffing? You’re right to think that they don’t however amongst weak players (particularly live as there are fewer and fewer weak ones online) there is a tendency towards what I call ‘desperation bluffing’. These are bluffs where they’ve gotten to the river without any real plan for the hand, and now have a holding with zero showdown value so they attempt a bluff because they’re out of options. Although most of these players do tend to be weak and passive throughout the hand, they are often willing to attempt one street bluffs, especially if it’s the only way they can win the hand. Let’s take at a couple of forms of the desperation bluff:

1. The missed draw bluff: This is of course very common. You still see this one pretty frequently online and many players are aware of it. The action for this is mostly goes down; flop call, turn check/check, and a river bluff. It can happen when you’re both in position and out of position, but you can expect it a little more when you’re in position because if you have showdown value on the river out of position you’re sometimes value betting instead of checking to attempt to bluff catch (depending on the strength of your hand and how the board has run out.) So to give an example hand of this concept in use:

Your stack: 4000
MP1’s stack: 4000. Blinds 25/50. You hold 9s 9c on the button. MP1 seems on the weak/loose side and has open limped before.
Preflop: Folds to MP1, MP1 calls for 50, folds to you on the button, you raise to 200, folds back to MP1, MP1 calls.
Flop: Js 8s 5c (Pot 475)
MP1 checks, you bet 350, MP1 calls.
Turn: 5d
MP1 checks, you check behind for pot control (against certain opponents you could bet again her for value, but against many others a check is appropriate.)
River: 2c
MP1 fires out 800, you call.

While you won’t always be good here, it’s pretty obvious that you should call as numerous draws have missed (the flush draw, 67, and 9T.) Against a weak opponent you shouldn’t expect him to be value betting worse often, though his showing up with A8s wouldn’t be crazy.

When you’re out of position on the river whether you should value bet or check to bluff induce depends on a few factors and will partially rely on your hand and pattern reading. If he’s the kind of player who peels the flop with any pair and a huge station on the river you can lean towards value betting. If you aren’t really sure and don’t expect him to pay off multiple streets then check with the intention of snapping a bluff. Now let’s take a look at a second situation you can snap off frequent bluffs.

2. When a player is too weak at value betting to have it bluff: These are fun bluffs to call down because when you catch the player you look like a God damn genius when really the reasoning is quite straight forward. Many weak players are quite bad at value betting for fairly obvious reasons; they aren’t aggressive and their hand reading is very weak. As a result when they have a hand with showdown value that they’re not sure of they tend to check and hope to get to turn cards over. So when a scare card comes that they won’t likely have and you check on it, you sometimes see these players attempt to bluff this card and you know that their range is polarized to big hands and air. A good example hand is from a tournament I recently played at Crown Casino during the Poker News Cup.

The tournament was a $2500 AUD buy in event that wound up being more sitngo than proper tournament. The opponent was a local player who is a very nice guy but excessively loose and weak, and capable of occasional bluffs. He regards me as an aggressive thinking player and expects me to continuation bet a high percentage of the time on the flop.

My stack: ~13000, MP2’s stack: ~21000, BB: ~15000, blinds 100/200. I hold 7d 7c on the CO.
Preflop: Folds to MP2, MP2 calls for 200, HJ folds, I raise to 800, folds to the BB, BB calls, MP2 calls.
Flop: 8 4 3 rainbow (Pot 2500)
BB checks, MP2 checks, I bet 1500, BB folds, MP2 calls.
Turn: A
MP2 checks, I check behind.
River: T
MP2 bets 2500 and my chips are in the pot about a tenth of a second after his. MP2 has 54 and turned a hand with showdown value into a bluff and asks “How do you call?!” in befuddlement when he sees my hand.

The reason this hand is such an instant call is because I know this player isn’t the type to attempt to value bet an 8 against me on the river, especially once the A scare card comes off. I can feel comfortable saying that although it’s unlikely he has one; he’s also basically never value betting a 10 either. Although he could in fact have an ace because he’s so loose, for the most part he’s going to either raise himself pre flop or give up on the flop considering I fired into two players.

There are many situations like this, particularly in live play, where some players simply can’t value bet unless they are very confident in their hands strength. Against these kinds of players you should be willing to call down their river bets in situations where they often have polarized ranges as they simply can’t have huge hands that often.

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