Turning a made poker hand into a bluff

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I came across the concept of turning a made hand into a bluff a few years ago reading a blog post by David Benefield. At the time I never really understood the value of doing such a thing, but in the past year or so I have been playing a lot higher stakes where it’s tough to find easy pots to pick up.

The idea basically stems from the thought process of “If you are about to make a call, think about the reasons why you should raise.” I’m glad I studied this concept because it helped me win an interesting hand recently in a $25-$25 NLHE cash game in New York City involving Jamie Gold.

The game was playing a bit crazy while I had a relatively tight image. Everyone was 200-plus big blinds deep and there was a very loose aggressive player named Wall Street Jon who was opening every pot. Directly to Jon’s left was Gold. He was playing pretty straight up and rather conservative in comparison to how I’ve seen him play on television.
In this particular hand, Wall Street Jon opened under the gun to $200, Jamie called relatively quickly and the action folded to me in the small blind. I made a loose call with {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}. The big blind called, too.

The flop came Q-8-2 rainbow and to my surprise the action checked around. The turn came the {5-Hearts}, bringing a flush draw, and the action checked around AGAIN. The river brought the {a-Hearts} making a possible flush. I planned on check-calling until the following action occurred:

After the big blind checked, Wall Street Jon bet $50 into $800. Jamie then raised to $300. Five years ago I would have called; two years ago I would have folded, but this time I decided to turn my hand into a bluff and I raised to $900. The action folded back to Jamie and he took about two minutes and folded A-J face up.

My reasoning for making this play stemmed from preflop action. I had Jamie on a small pair or a hand like A-10 or A-J because of how quickly he called preflop and his preflop calling frequency over the past four to five rotations.

His bet size indicated he was strong enough to bet for value but not strong enough to withstand a reraise. I would’ve expected him to bet a flush draw or a set in position on the turn a large percentage of the time. I was 80 percent sure he had A-J or A-10 and I could get him off his hand because of my image.

If he had two pair or decided to call me down then so be it, it will most likely get me paid in future situations, not to mention an invite back to the game.

So the next time you’re about to make a marginal call, ask yourself, “What are the reasons I should raise?” Who knows, turning your made hand into a bluff might win you a decent-sized pot the next time you’re in a similar situation.

— Jay Houston is an instructor with DeepStacks.com and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at editor@anteupmagazine.com