The Perfect Bluff in poker: Telling a believable story

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

Submitted by Fubusama, this article belongs to the Poker Strategy series.

There are several situations that will frequently present themselves where you have the option to represent a huge hand, even if your holding is very marginal. In this article, we will discuss some spots where you can profit by taking a very strong line with your opponent when you suspect that their holdings are weak.

In our first example, we will look at the best way to represent a set and get our opponent to fold a pair, including top pair. Suppose you are in the big blind with a marginal hand, like 78 suited. The button raises, you call and are heads up, out of position against the button. The flop comes Kxx, you check, your opponent bets. How can we represent a set?

First and foremost, consider your opponents c-betting frequency. Do they cbet a lot or infrequently? If they cbet a lot, you have an opportunity to take this pot away on later streets by floating out of position with the intention to take the pot away later. The important thing to note is that our opponent is cbetting a lot, meaning that most of the time he has in fact missed the flop. We will use this information against him to get another bet out of him and take down the pot with what is likely the worse hand.

Back to our example: The flop comes Kxx, you check, your opponent bets, you call.

Turn comes Q. You check, your opponent bets again. You check/raise for a pot sized bet.

This line is the standard line most people take when they have actually hit a set. The best thing about this move is, even without a set, your opponent has a tough decision to make if his holding is even as good as two pair, as he is likely going to face an all-in decision on the river if he makes the call. In many cases, your opponent will fold on the turn and you will have squeezed 2 bets out of him with 8 high.

Let’s have a look at another example, where we represent a flush.

Suppose you’re on the button with KT and open the pot. The big blind calls. You know the big blind is a tight, solid player and is likely only calling with pocket pairs, or hands like KQ, AJ, AQ, etc.

The flop come A23, two clubs. Your opponent leads into you, representing the Ace. What should you do?

You should definitely float in position here. Your opponent has lead into, meaning he is most likely trying to protect a weak made hand, like a pair of aces. There are many bad turn cards that can come, like a 4, 5, or any club. If one does come out, you can bet big on the turn and go all-in on the river and the one pair of aces will almost always have to fold.

In our last example, we’ll look at a spot where we can beat bluffs with bigger bluffs.

Suppose you in the big blind with 54 of clubs. The button raises and you call. You are heads up and out of position to the button.

The flop comes A 3 6, with 1 club. With your open-ended straight draw and backdoor flush, leading into the button might be a good idea. He calls.

The turn comes the 8 of clubs, giving you the flush draw and straight draw and close to 30% equity against a one pair hand. Another good spot to bet into your opponent. He calls.

At this point, your opponent either has one pair or some kind of a draw as well. If the river bricks off, like maybe the 2 of diamonds – if you bet, you are likely going to get called by 1 pair hands and get missed draws to fold. But what happens if you check? If your opponent was drawing to a hand that missed, there is a good chance he will bet his missed draw. If your opponent has top pair, he might put out a small value bet in-case you missed your draw. Now that he’s bet, you have an opportunity to check/raise him off that hand, getting almost all hands to fold except for a set or better. It is almost impossible for a one pair hand to stand the heat of a check/raise all in on the river.

When you bluff, you have to tell a story that is believable. In other words, don’t take a line with a bluff that you wouldn’t take with your value hands.

Good luck at the tables.


Fubusama is an online professional poker player and poker writer.

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