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Your Opponent Might Be Bluffing

Thu 29 June 2017 Your Opponent Might Be Bluffing

The next time you play in your usual game, pay attention to the betting that takes place on the river. As you undoubtedly know by now, not every bet that is made on the river is made because the bettor has the nuts and is betting for value. A lot of those bets are going to be pure bluff attempts. But which ones? I will leave that for you to decide for yourself.

If you're in the hand on the river, and you find yourself saying, "I think that guy's bet is a bluff," under your breath, then here's what I want you to do:

  1. Determine the pot odds. If you have to call $6 with a $55 pot, then you're getting pot odds of about 9:1. If you have to call $8 with a $45 pot, then you're getting pot odds of about 5.5:1, or 11:2.

  2. Try to determine what your chances of winning the hand are in a showdown with the bettor. Say to yourself, "I have a 1 out of X chance of winning this hand." You decide what the X is.

  3. Now compare the two numbers from steps 1 and 2. Remember, you want the number from step 1 to be bigger than the number from step 2. For example, you might say to yourself, "I think my chances of winning the hand are 1 out of 6, and the pot odds are 9:1." Or, "I think my chances of winning the hand are 1 out of

  4. and the pot odds are 5:1."

  5. If the number from the pot odds is bigger than the number you came up with from your hand, you should call. The pot is offering you better odds than you need, so you have an overlay. That's a great situation to be in, and you will show a profit in the long run, which will add to your hourly rate.

  6. If you call this possible bluff because you have the right pot odds, keep track of how you make out. Every time you call to catch a possible bluff, count how many bets it costs you to call, and count how many bets are in the pots you win. If you call one bet and win a pot with eight bets in it, your count would be +8. Don't count the bet you called with.

If you call a possible bluff and lose the hand, however, then subtract one bet from your running count. Now you're at +7. If you try to catch three more bluffs and lose them all, your running count would be at +4. If you then catch a bluff with 15 bets in the pot, your running count would now be +19. Start this running count at the beginning of the game, and keep it going until your playing session is over.

When you're completing your notes, make sure this count is in big bets (it should already be big bets, since you're counting only bets that take place on the river) per hour, and compare that number to the one or two big bets per hour that you hope to win in the long run.