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Bluffing on the flop in low-stakes limit

One of the hallmarks of a good solid reg is the ability to be precise with bluffing at all stages of the hand. In heads up and three way situations precise bluffing can significantly add to a player’s bottom line. You need to be on the lookout for opportunities that arise in un-raised pots and especially small pots. Quite often when a pot is un-raised pre-flop and the hand is heads up or three way then correct bluffing can be very profitable.

Good flops for launching these attempts on the flop can be where there is only one high card with no drawing possibilities. Let us look at a few examples to show what I mean. It has been folded around to the button who makes a weak limp at $3-$6 and the small blind completes making a $9 pot. We have the Jc-2d and check and the flop is Kc-4d-4h and the small blind checks.

This is a very good situation to bluff, both of your opponents showed no pre-flop strength and the flop has no drawing possibilities. So unless our opponents have a four, king or a pocket pair already then they will be hard pressed to call. Also the small blind has checked so we have even further information that there is nothing out there.

Another factor that can make this play profitable is pot odds. We are betting $3 into a $9 pot so our bet only has to be good one third of the time for the bet to break even. If we get called even by just one player then we are through with the hand and if it gets raised then we simply fold. These are good bets to make in limit play because they do not need to work all the time or even half the time to show a profit.

Here we are representing a hand like K-x or more specifically a king with a small kicker. We can easily have this holding as our opponents merely limped in. Also even after we bet, there is still only $12 in the pot which is only two big blinds. This means that the pot may not seem like fighting for to your two opponents and this makes another sound and valid reason for betting.

Another factor that needs to be considered is what types of hands limpers come in with in limit ring games. When a player limps then they are basically saying that they don’t have a raising hand and their hand does not merit any further financial input into the pot in their eyes. So this means speculative hands or hands that they feel may be dominated. This could mean weak aces or weak suited kings or queens or suited connectors like J-10. So when a flop comes and is something like Kh-6d-2c and you have 8-3 in an un-raised pot in the big blind, and the small blind checks, then you have something of an opportunity here. If a player has a hand like A-5s or A-4s and we bet, then they cannot call if they are anywhere near decent. Having only one overcard would make this a terrible call and especially when hitting the ace may not even make them the best hand!

Likewise if they have a queen or a hand like J-10s, they must know that if we are betting with a weak king then they will need to catch runner runner to overtake us. These single high card flops can be very profitable in un-raised pots and if you can look out for these then they can be considerable earners for you.

The online limit games are so tight these days and the average pots are so small that you need to grab every last bit of value that you can and this includes pots that are there for the taking. When you make the right moves against the right players on the right types of board at the right time then your success rate does not even have to be all that high at limit hold’em, simply because of the pot odds.

If you get caught bluffing, then against observant players you may need to adjust but that will still make you money. If you bluff at a Q-2-2 flop with J-3 and get called and then the turn and river gets checked down and your opponent wins with 6-6 and gets to see your J-3 then your image will certainly have changed, although online at the lower levels that could be less of a problem.

Carl "The Dean" Sampson can be seen at his blog http://www.pokersharkpool.com and 888poker.

Carl Sampson

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