Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Bluffs Need to Tell a Believable Story (Part 2)

I played $2/$3/$5 Tuesday night and got involved in a lot of big pots.

There are four hands from the night worth noting. On the first, a player who was the best among my opponents and about $1,500 deep opened for $30 which I'd noted was his standard raise. I've instituted a plan to three bet whenever given the chance with JT and 66 in order to methodically balance my three bet range a bit so it's not all TT-AA, AK and AQ. So when I looked down at JT I made it $80 to go as if I had a very big hand.

My opponent called fairly quickly and the flop came down 8 5 3, with no flush draws which is about a dry a board as you'll see. I bet out $125 hoping my opponent would put me on the big pair I was representing and fold, but after some thought he called. The turn was a 10 which was a great card for me if I was ahead and an awful card if I was behind at that point. Now that I had something, I wanted to get to showdown, and I figured if I checked I'd be facing a bet on the river and give my opponent a shot to potentially catch up, so I fired out $200. This was a misplay. I should have realized that this guy wasn't calling $125 on the flop out of position with overs and there were no draws out there.

I got check raised all in and folded to save the $400 I had left in my stack. If that wasn't an overpair or a set of 8's this guy did an amazing job with an elaborate bluff and I believed his story. This hand was the opposite of "well there was nothing I could do." About the only thing I really like that I did with this hand was bet the flop. The rest was a real cluster.

A little later I again got check raised on the turn, but this time it did not compute. I raised to $20 with AJ on the button and got called by both blinds. The flop came down A K 9 with two diamonds and I checked it back when it checked to me. I was very likely to have the best hand, but so much so that I figured I'd lose them both with a bet and might get some action if I checked. Checking back with top pair about 20% of the time is also a balancing my range type of play.

The turn was a Q and again it was checked to me. I bet out $45 expecting two folds, but instead I get check raised all in to $250! Normally, big turn check raises are a sign of complete and total doom, but in this instance I played the hand to look weak (and got what I wanted) and more importantly a raise to 2.5X what's in the pot is a massive over bet. A big hand wouldn't make it so much. It looked like a flush draw. After thinking it over for 15 seconds I called and it was in fact a flush draw. I was rewarded for my good call by the flush coming in and my opponent scooping in the $560 pot. Grrrrr!

The next hand is some set up for the last hand. I'd recovered from those debacles and had a little over $800 in front of me and was roughly even on the night when I got dealt two black tens. The guy just to my right was new to the game and I'd never seen him before. He bought in for $500 which is usually a sign of strength, but he'd posted $5 to get a hand and almost folded even though he was already in for $5 and didn't need to put in any more money to see the flop. This was surely a sign of weakness.

Mr. New Guy made it $30 to go, I just called with my TT, and we took the flop 4 way with the blinds. The flop came down 9 6 3 all clubs and Mr. New Guy fired out $100. Big bets usually mean big hands, but with an overpair and a club I felt I had to call. The turn was a 4 of spades and Mr. New Guy bet out $200. Big bets again usually mean big hands again. It's hard to fold an overpair with a flush draw, but I thought I was likely against an even bigger pair with an even bigger club. That was a hard fold to make but I did it.

A hand or two later I got into it again with the same guy. This time he just called $5 and I made it $30 to go with QQ. I also got 3 callers and the flop came down K J 8 with no flush draws. I didn't love the king, but I bet out $100 because checking is just too weak. Only Mr. New Guy called. The turn was a 7 and it got checked to me again.

I was not sure what my opponent had. I thought there was some chance he might have a J or a K or a draw, but I didn't have a good read on him. I decided to go with the "When in doubt fire!" strategy and put $200 out there. Mr New Guy called not right away, but pretty quickly.

The river paired the 7 which I felt almost certain didn't change anything. After the call on the turn I figured my goose was cooked and it was time to check it and hope I somehow had the best hand. I was waiting for Mr. New Guy to check so I could turn up my hand. And I kept waiting. He just sat there fiddling with his chips.

After about 10 seconds I thought "This looks like he missed a draw and now he's stuck and doesn't know what to do." This was odd though because there weren't many draws that made sense. On the flop T9 was a possible, but it got there on the turn. QT was possible, but I had two of the Q's so it wasn't all that likely. AQ or AT wouldn't call $200 on the turn. J9 was maybe in there. After maybe 30 seconds he moved all in for $400. Normally calling a $400 river bet with a hand that can only beat a bluff is a bad idea. I took 10 seconds to make sure I was sure (or at least sure enough) and then called. In this case though I was right - he tabled QT and I took down a $1,500 pot.

I was $700 to the good after that hand, but I spewed a good bit of that off and left a $266 winner on the night.

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