Poker Coaching with Jonathan Little: Bluff Catching
In a $10,000 buy-in high roller event, the blinds were 300/600 with a 75 ante when the action folded to me in the lojack seat with . I decided to raise to 1,400 out of my 22,000 stack. The small blind, a very active, aggressive 50-year-old, and the big blind, and loose, aggressive younger player, both called.
The flop came . The small blind led for 3,000 into the 4,875 pot and the big blind folded.
I decided to call. While calling may seem a bit optimistic, it is important to remember that the small blind is overly active. This implies that his range is much wider than only reasonable made hands and decent draws. He could certainly be leading with hands as weak as overcards with backdoor flush draws, meaning my could easily have him in bad shape.
While calling leads to dicey turn and river situations, it is probably ideal. Raising doesn't have much merit because if my opponent calls or reraises, I have no way of knowing where I stand.
The turn was the . The small blind bet again, this time 5,000 into the 10,875 pot.
I again decided to call. At this point, it is mandatory to determine if the opponent is capable of betting again on the turn with nothing. If he is, I should be somewhat inclined to continue calling because the turn, despite being an overcard, didn't significantly change the board.
If he will only bet the turn with his decent made hands and his best draws, folding is perfectly acceptable because is in marginal shape against that range.
The river was the , making the board . The small blind bet 10,000 into the 20,875 pot, almost enough to put me all in.
As on the turn, the river did not meaningfully change the board. Also, if my opponent had an or , he would likely check this river, meaning he will usually show up with or a better made hand, or a bluff.
Given essentially all the draws missed, I think this is a somewhat easy call. There is no merit in raising because when my opponent doesn't have a or , he will almost certainly fold, and when he does, he will happily call off.
I made the hero call and my opponent turned up for a busted straight draw, awarding me a nice pot.
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Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,500,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.
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