Bluffing Twice in NL Holdem
Firing the second missile (bluff) on the turn can be scary. At the point of your first bluff the objective was to hope your opponent didn’t make a hand on the flop. After he calls the first bullet your fate lies ahead of you. With just a call what can you presume he is holding?
There are two objectives you need to consider before firing your second bluff. Is your opponent a scared player and will a big bet get them to fold if they don’t have the nuts? Will this player call you down till death do his cards part with top pair? At this point we need to figure out when to bluff in poker and if we can get away with it.
To better explain what the situation is I’ll go into this example while I was playing the $5/10 NL table at Bugsysclub. I was holding pocket Jacks so I raised it up to $40 preflop. There were two players that called.
One guy had no business at these stakes. You could tell he was playing scared and wouldn’t risk too much money without a very powerful hand. This type of player is common at the max NL tables at Bugsyclub (when they were in business . They usually foster up half the buy-in and make their way to the upper limits for the first time. The other guy I’ve played against before and was a regular at Bugsy. He played for a living and I respected his game. The flop came with an Ace on board with a flush draw lingering.
Depending on who you’re up against this hand would usually be surrendered but considering my opponents I decided to bluff at the pot. I bet out $150 and the weaker player called me. The regular folded as he probably held a small pair. So at this point what should be going through my mind? My opponent is probably holding top pair with a bad kicker. He usually raises if he flops a hand he feels is best.
At this point I put him on top pair with a weak kicker or possibly a flush draw. In either case both scenarios are great for me. The turn comes and it’s a blank for me.Deciding to bluff at the pot I stick out $500 and after much consideration my opponent folds and I show pocket Jacks. He tells me he had me beat but couldn’t call that much money with just top pair. Precisely what I was thinking when I put out the second bluff.
Know Your Opponent
Knowing when to bluff is just as much about knowing your opponent as it is their hand. Evaluating their threshold for risk is key. Now of course you really can’t attempt these plays in low stakes poker because it’s exceedingly difficult to bluff players out of a pot when the risk of losing is low. It’s like trying to bluff in “play money” games, it’s just not going to work out too well.
In tournament poker firing the second bullet is scary. One false move can send you flailing to the rail. That’s what makes this move so risky yet so profitable when properly executed. During a cash game you can just reload but in tournaments it’s tough to fire the second bullet at risk of all your chips.
In conclusion always evaluate the players you are up against. Know their risk tolerance and your ability to bluff them. Against scared players put out bets you know they are afraid to call. Knowing when to bluff in poker is just one step you can take to become an even more profitable player.
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