Feb 25 2010

Reading your Opponent in Poker

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 2

Sometimes you will end up with a hand that will only beat a complete bluff. These hands are commonly referred to as bluff catchers. Making a call with a bluff catcher is not typically going to be a winning proposition, but on occasion it will only make sense. In order to make profitable calls while holding a bluff catcher, a player will need to have a pristine read on their opponent. You will only be able to beat a very defined and narrow range of hands, so you will need to be quite sure that your opponent holds one of the few hands that you can beat.

When you lose after making a call with a bluff catcher you will probably feel like an idiot. You will ask yourself why you made such a stupid call, and so on and so forth. This is the nature of the game, you will look like a genius in certain hands but you will look like a moron in others. All that matters is that your genius outweighs your idiocy.

No-Limit Hold’em, $1.00 BB (9 handed) @ Party Poker

Button ($153.35)

SB ($194)

BB ($43.50)

UTG ($380.65)

UTG+1 ($105.20)

MP1 ($91.55)

MP2 ($50.65)

MP3 ($198.25)

Hero (CO) ($170.10)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 6c, 4c

2 folds, MP1 bets $3.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $3.50, 3 folds

Pre flop we are dealt a small suited connector. It is a very playable hand, particularly in position, so we elect to call the initial raise as opposed to re raising. We head to the flop playing heads up vs. the initial raiser.

Flop: ($8.50) 7c, 7d, 7h (2 players)

MP1 checks, Hero bets $5, MP1 calls $5

The flop brings trip 7s. The raiser checks and we lead with a $5 bet, hoping to take down the pot right now. They decide to come along and see a turn. At this point we should be putting them on small pocket pairs and ace high type hands.

Turn: ($18.50) 3d (2 players)

MP1 checks, Hero bets $12, MP1 calls $12

The turn is another low card and probably hasn’t changed much for our opponent. The raiser checks again and we make another bet in an attempt to take it down, but the raiser calls yet again. We head to what is sure to be an interesting river.

River: ($42.50) 5d (2 players)

MP1 bets $21.25, Hero calls $21.25

The river is one of the only cards in the deck that can improve our hand so much, and yet so little at the same time. We now have a straight, but when there are three 7s on the board this doesn’t do us much good. Any pair of any sort will have us absolutely crushed as it will be a full house. If the raiser checked this river we would check back hoping to be good at showdown. Instead the raiser leads for a half pot sized bet.

Let’s take a step back. Would they have check called two prior streets with a 7 or a big pair? Probably not, because if they did it would be tough to build a huge pot. So, this narrows our opponent’s range down to one of two hands, either a moderate pocket pair or absolutely nothing. Even a pocket pair is unlikely at this point, however, because they probably would have check called the river just as they did on the flop and turn. It is certainly possible that someone would play a moderate pocket pair in this way, it just isn’t too likely. This river bet instead looks like it wants to show a ton of strength, strength that the prior play just doesn’t verify. After piecing together this puzzle we call and see that the raiser was in fact bluffing and had nothing more than ace high the entire time.

Total pot: $85 | Rake: $3.50


MP1 had Js, Ac (three of a kind, sevens).

Hero had 6c, 4c (straight, seven high).

Outcome: Hero won $163

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