The Triple Barrel Bluff
People always ask me, "how do I become a better bluffer?"
The answer I always give them is, "you don’t."
Why do you play poker? For money? For glory?
You don’t need a great bluffing game for either. I was a complete nut peddler for years and made money hand over fist. You can win plenty of tournaments getting recreational players to call you down.
If you’re worried that people are going to catch on, then you’re wrong.
In the words of my podcast’s co-host, "if you took a survey at the end of a poker hand as to what happened on the previous deal six out of nine of the players couldn’t tell you a thing." That’s true for live and online.
If you do feel you need to incorporate bluffs, then I’d recommend learning how to checkraise from the big blind. That’s a very safe bluff to do, and relatively cheap. If you checkraise, get called, and check/fold the turn that’s an easy way to tell people you have some gamble in you, too.
However, if you do insist on learning how to do a large bluff, this is the one I’d suggest you start on.
First off, you need a target. The target should have a wide calling range preflop. I suggest a big blind flatter.
Second, you’ll need a coordinated board. Let’s say 9d-7d-5c. Let’s say you bet a coordinated board like this with multiple flush and straight draws, and get called.
This means your opponent’s range is capped. He likely would have checkraised his two-pair and set combinations, because all of those draws are dangerous. He’d likely have checkraised his really good combo draws, and his nut flush draws when stacks are less than 40 big blinds. Finally, he would have threebet preflop with his overpairs.
From this analysis, we can surmise that most of his hands are pairs. And since his calling range preflop was so wide, we can also guess that most of these pairs are garbage.
Now, here’s the million-dollar question: Can you get the best pair to fold by the river?
Can you make A-9 fold by the river?
Most of the time, I’d say yes, yes you can.
If all he has on the flop is pairs and you’re folding the best one, then you’re folding close to everything by the river. You only lose when he hits a draw or a goofy two pair.
Let’s say a six or eight comes on the turn. Should you not follow through?
No, you should. He doesn’t have the straight 70%+ of the time.
What if the flush draw comes in? Should you relent then?
No. Again, he doesn’t have the flush 70%+ of the time.
Find a board where his range is capped and structure your bets in a way to put him all-in by the river. Commit to it.
You want to put him all-in by the river, because that changes the stakes from tournament Monopoly money to real dollars and hours invested. This is quite the shift. This makes people take things far more seriously.
Additionally, remember the human incentives behind calling. If they call and they’re wrong people like just being able to fold. They don’t want people to see what they’re calling with. That’d be embarrassing.
If they can just fold face down on the river when they’re wrong and table their hand when they’re right it’s like freerolling to look like a genius.
If you put them all-in this takes away all of that. They’ll have to table their hand regardless. Now, they don’t want to look like a horse’s ass.
As you can see, this is quite a specialized bluff. But it’s the most surefire big bluff you can do, if you want to branch out.
You need to prepare on the flop though to jam all-in on the river. You need to know your victim’s stack.
One trick I use is multiplying my flop bet by 4X, because that’s close to what my river bet will be. I then ask myself if that is enough to put the guy in by the river. That helps me from betting too little on the flop, making it so I have to overjam on the river. That can look desperate.
I hope these tips will help you the next time you play. Good luck to all of you.