Inducing a Bluff
by Layne Flack
Pro Tip: 54
Inducing a Bluff
March 27, 2006
Beginners come to poker thinking that the bluff has one simple purpose: To take pots when you don't have a hand that can win at showdown. In No-Limit Hold 'em, however, the bluff can be used in many different ways. As a recent tip by Huck Seed pointed out, a good player can use the threat of a bluff to force an opponent into making a very bad call.
For this tip, I thought I'd show another way you can use the bluff to your advantage. Using this technique, you'll neither be bluffing nor threatening to bluff, but rather, you'll be convincing an opponent to bluff in a situation where you almost certainly have the best hand.
Say you're playing a game of No-Limit Hold 'em and you raise in middle position with Kh-Qh. You're called by two players - one behind you and one in the blind. You're thrilled to see the flop: 2h-7h-Th. You flopped a flush. The big blind checks to you and you bet. (Note that I highly recommend betting in this sort of situation. Betting the made hand often does more to disguise the strength of your holding than slow playing does.)
Your bet is called by the late position player. What's he calling with? Maybe he has a Ten or the Ah. The turn is a blank, the 3c. You bet again, and once again are called. Now the river is another blank, the 4d, making the board 2h-7h-Th-3c-4d. What's your play?
On the river you should consider checking - but not because you're worried that your opponent has a better hand. Rather, since your opponent called on the river, you have to consider what he may have. It's hard to bluff on three consecutive streets, and most players won't launch that third bullet. So, after calling you on the flop and turn, your opponent may look at something like top pair and give up, thinking that you must have him beat if you're willing to fire at this pot three times. Or, if he only has the Ah, he'll have no choice but to fold. Either way, there'll be essentially no way for you to get any value out of the hand by betting.
If you check, however, you let your opponent stab at the pot. If he's got just the Ah, he may be inclined to see your check as a sign of weakness. He'll fire at the pot in desperation, hopeful that he can force a fold. Then you'll call and take a nice pot.
Remember, your opponent's broken draws offer great opportunities for you to induce bluffs. When you have a hand and you appear to be up against a draw that doesn't get there by the river, you stand to make the most by checking to your opponent, who can then do his best to pick up the pot by betting. It's a great technique, and yet another way you can use the bluff to your advantage.
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