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Old 09-09-2017, 12:22 PM   #1
goldFishshark
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When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

I think the title pretty much says it all. There are typically spots where your average player will think "I fold because you're never bluffing there." (For example, you know a fish is never check jamming the river as a bluff)

How do we make the decision to bluff with such a value oriented line? For example, bluff check raising or bluff raising in position (even overbetting, I suppose, but I think that that concept is actually slightly easier to grasp). By the river, we'll have both very few combos of strong value hands that can raise and can (and technically should) only play this way with a handful of bluffs. Our opponent betting into us when we're OOP indicates a lot of strength as well, unless we believe they're going for thin value.

My idea as of now is that you look for boards that strongly favor your range... but how can we convince villain of our story and also make sure that we don't run into a hand that's going to snap call? Obviously this ties in with the subject of getting called with these lines with our value hands.

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Old 09-09-2017, 01:47 PM   #2
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Of course, targeting specific players that have a "fold" button is a given. But I think you mean in general against balanced players? Some very dry boards, where you have multiple backdoors, but nothing immediate, and are in position maybe. Should require two barrels, and the problem is balanced players will call the first barrel correctly and then sometimes pick up a draw on the turn (sometimes the draw you are repping).
Overall, if GTO says never bluff here then you should not, especially if you have sdv.
So I guess it goes back to which players you are wanting to bluff more often, exploitively.
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Old 09-09-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

I think a "range bluff" would also be either overbet or smallish value sized, nothing around pot size. Big or small, not middle.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:21 PM   #4
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

No one can tell you when to inject some white magic into the math, it's just something you have, or you don't.
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:41 PM   #5
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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Originally Posted by A_C_Slater View Post
No one can tell you when to inject some white magic into the math, it's just something you have, or you don't.
I already have the white magic for sure. Mention my name at the 2nl home games and they'll give you a what for.

I'm just asking from a purely theoretical standpoint--and I guess I should've been more clear--raising semi bluffs is an easier concept to grasp, but on the river when all the cards are out, how do we decide which combos to bluff and where? For example if we're even raising some sets for value on the river, don't we need to include bluffs to balance?

Say the river completes a flush--are you suggesting we don't use theory to balance our range and instead look for reads to make a bluff?
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:43 PM   #6
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

For example, Mr. Polk says here that he decided to bluff here because (among other things) he had a 4 blocker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJdVyJWU05s

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Old 09-09-2017, 11:47 PM   #7
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

That's far from a spot where Polk is never bluffing.


What about this spot? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqr4l7HKSp4


Hellmuth check/raises turn nearly his whole stack with queen high and then 1/5 pots river all in when the 3rd diamond comes. No one is ever bluffing in this spot. Only the whispers of white magic can tell you when to make this kind of move.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:07 AM   #8
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Quote:
Originally Posted by goldFishshark View Post
I'm just asking from a purely theoretical standpoint--and I guess I should've been more clear--raising semi bluffs is an easier concept to grasp, but on the river when all the cards are out, how do we decide which combos to bluff and where? For example if we're even raising some sets for value on the river, don't we need to include bluffs to balance?

Say the river completes a flush--are you suggesting we don't use theory to balance our range and instead look for reads to make a bluff?
You can raise bluff-raise with hands that don't make money as calls, but might at least break even as raises. Such hands usually contain blockers to the nut hands that villain would call with.
The classic example is when a flush draw gets there and villain makes a small blocking bet, with a range that mostly contains sets, 2prs, and TPTK. If you have the nut flush blocker, you know that villain can't have the nut flush, so you can raise expecting him to fold his thin value hands at a high enough frequency for your bluff to work.
Note that against thinking players, the hands you're trying to rep should be in your range, because otherwise your 'story' won't make sense and they will call. Against 'scared' nits, however, you don't even need a blocker. They bet-fold way too often on scary rivers even if your line makes no sense. i.e. Even if you never have a flush in your range, given the way you played the hand on a particular runout, if you make a big enough raise, the nit will convince himself you have it. Level 1 thinkers, by contrast, won't even care what you're trying to rep. They just call with their fourth pair.

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:14 AM   #9
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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That's far from a spot where Polk is never bluffing.


What about this spot? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqr4l7HKSp4


Hellmuth check/raises turn nearly his whole stack with queen high and then 1/5 pots river all in when the 3rd diamond comes. No one is ever bluffing in this spot. Only the whispers of white magic can tell you when to make this kind of move.
Okay it's a spot where heretofore I would rarely if ever be bluffing. I'd never seen that hand before, but I think I need a long break from poker now.

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Old 09-10-2017, 10:23 AM   #10
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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You can raise bluff-raise with hands that don't make money as calls, but might at least break even as raises. Such hands usually contain blockers to the nut hands that villain would call with.
The classic example is when a flush draw gets there and villain makes a small blocking bet, with a range that mostly contains sets, 2prs, and TPTK. If you have the nut flush blocker, you know that villain can't have the nut flush, so you can raise expecting him to fold his thin value hands at a high enough frequency for your bluff to work.
Note that against thinking players, the hands you're trying to rep should be in your range, because otherwise your 'story' won't make sense and they will call. Against 'scared' nits, however, you don't even need a blocker. They bet-fold way too often on scary rivers even if your line makes no sense. i.e. Even if you never have a flush in your range, given the way you played the hand on a particular runout, if you make a big enough raise, the nit will convince himself you have it. Level 1 thinkers, by contrast, won't even care what you're trying to rep. They just call with their fourth pair.
This is probably not the best thread to ask, but how can you confidently determine that flushes aren't (or even most likely aren't) in somebody's range? I often run into players who bet quite small with their best hands, trying not to "scare away" their opponents. I guess that makes me the nit in your explanation I've found 3flush and 4flush boards (IP/OOP, say with only TP) to be some of my toughest spots.
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:25 PM   #11
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

A few rules of thumb for knowing when to bluff and possibly give up include but are not limited to these principles:

The lower you are in your range on the river the higher ev bluffing will be and the lower the ev of checking will be.

The best draws make the best bluffs vs everyone and sometimes you can get away with very low equity bluffs vs tight players.

Vs loose players of both aggressive and passive in nature, the value of checking goes way up because of the value of pair outs is high.

There's a difference between a loose player that makes lots of + ev decisions and a tight player that plays his range poorly. Knowing the difference can lead you to bluff or not exploitively.

Last edited by Bob148; 09-10-2017 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:20 PM   #12
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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The lower you are in your range on the river the higher ev bluffing will be and the lower the ev of checking will be.
I just wanted to point out this is slightly misleading, though I know you didn't intend it to be.

I am stating the below for other users that might read this and not specifically for you.

It's true as you go lower in your range your equity in the pot approaches 0 so that checking becomes less attractive and bluffing becomes more attractive.

However, blockers and the bet size we choose play a role in our EV as well in terms of how much we risk compared to how much of our equity or additional equity we end up buying from our opponent.

So it's not necessarily by default the lower we go in our range the higher our EV becomes from bluffing. Meaning just being low in your range is not enough to make bluffing the highest EV option available.
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:31 AM   #13
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

I agree with all of that.

Quote:
blockers and the bet size we choose play a role in our EV as well in terms of how much we risk compared to how much of our equity or additional equity we end up buying from our opponent.
The thing about blockers is that I have a hard time getting opponents to fold pairs on the river with rational betsizes. I'm not inside their heads, but I think that they think like this: I made it to the river vs a spewbot and I can beat a bluff thus I call.

I gotta bet really big to get my opponents to fold good hands. This comes with the problem of having a bluff heavy range that is exploitable due to the fact that I don't use such betsizes with value hands. Yeah it works great vs unknowns and clueless players, but vs good players I rarely use blockers to bluff. I always bluff when I have the bottom of my range; I consider not doing so to be an exploitive measure vs those that call too often.

I'm not saying you're wrong; I bet that bluffing with blockers works great when you have a tight image; I rarely have such an image however; thus I rarely bluff with blockers.
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:08 PM   #14
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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Originally Posted by goldFishshark View Post
This is probably not the best thread to ask, but how can you confidently determine that flushes aren't (or even most likely aren't) in somebody's range?
Just from getting a feel for (or notes/stats on) how someone plays their draws, you can often eliminate various combos. Player pool tendencies are also pretty useful.
If you know someone always c-bets their flopped FDs, but you're in a spot where he checked back the flop, you can rule flushes out of his range on the river.
e.g. Suppose an ABC villain is on the button and you defended with Ah 5c in the BB.
Flop comes 2s 8h 5h, and villain checks back. Turn is an offsuit king. You check again, villain delay c-bets 1/2p, you call with 3rd pair. River is the Th, so the front door flush draw got there. You sometimes win with 4th pair if villain checks back, if he was just bluffing on the turn, but suppose villain bets smallish again. Your hand is less likely to be winning now. But you're pretty sure he doesn't have a flush, because:
a) He usually c-bets his flush draws.
b) You have the nut flush blocker.

Villain's range appears to be capped at KT (top two), but he can also be going for thin value with AK/KQ/KJ. So you check-raise the river. He takes a long look at his KQ and then folds the best hand, because he's certain that you have the flush.

EDIT: Visual version

BB just turned 4th pair into a bluff, and BTN is about to fold top pair.

Last edited by ArtyMcFly; 09-11-2017 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 12:34 PM   #15
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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I agree with all of that.



The thing about blockers is that I have a hard time getting opponents to fold pairs on the river with rational betsizes. I'm not inside their heads, but I think that they think like this: I made it to the river vs a spewbot and I can beat a bluff thus I call.

I gotta bet really big to get my opponents to fold good hands. This comes with the problem of having a bluff heavy range that is exploitable due to the fact that I don't use such betsizes with value hands. Yeah it works great vs unknowns and clueless players, but vs good players I rarely use blockers to bluff. I always bluff when I have the bottom of my range; I consider not doing so to be an exploitive measure vs those that call too often.

I'm not saying you're wrong; I bet that bluffing with blockers works great when you have a tight image; I rarely have such an image however; thus I rarely bluff with blockers.
I think you are underestimating how important blockers are and overvaluing being at the bottom of your range.

Whether you bluff with Qhi or 5hi is irrelevant since Jhi will never call your bluff. Having blockers makes a huge difference in eliminating strong combos from villain's range ==> increasing your FE. In PLO, I would never bluff potsized bluff without blockers.

The only advantage to bluffing based on where you are on your range is that you can keep yourself disciplined: you don't overbluff with all parts of your range on a whim. However, you can also rank your blockers to ameliorate that problem.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:40 PM   #16
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Maybe that's true that I underestimate the value of blockers particularly in position because I'm overvaluing the ev of a check down vs good players; we're not really talking concrete examples though.
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:46 PM   #17
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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Maybe that's true that I underestimate the value of blockers particularly in position because I'm overvaluing the ev of a check down vs good players; we're not really talking concrete examples though.
Well there is an obvious mathematical benefit to blockers as well since we share the same pool of cards. If you block villain's calling range then by default villain should be calling less often.

The problem is since calling ranges generally vary by villain you need to know something about villain's range to truly cater your blocker bluffs to that range. It may be that it's not possible to do that because either the composition of villain's range or range interactions with the flop prevent you from doing so effectively.

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Old 09-12-2017, 04:01 PM   #18
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Quote:
If you block villain's calling range then by default villain should be calling less often.
Naturally, but the wider the ranges are the less you block and the more absolute showdown value hands have. I'm not saying that I never use blockers to bluff, but that the number of these bluff combos are far outnumbered by the hands at the bottom of my range; unless the ranges in question are quite narrow. This is why I used the phrase here:

Quote:
I rarely bluff with blockers.
I meant this relative to all of the junk I'm bluffing on the river; not to mean that I abstain from bluffing with blockers.

----

I was hoping someone would comment on this part of my post:

Quote:
I'm overvaluing the ev of a check down vs good players
because maybe I am, or maybe I'm not. We would need to have a good idea of the ev of checking back the river and compare that to the ev of bluffing.

tourney is starting but I'll be back to ramble more in a bit.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:16 PM   #19
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

What if we're playing in a position where we will often have air, like the SB or the BTN? Then, aren't there way too many hands at the bottom of our range?

Explanatory side note:
I actually just watched an MIT lecture (I can't remember the pro who was giving it, but some of you may have seen it) where he says that we enumerate our holdings and then call down in spots where we effectively are forced to, given the odds we're laid. For example, say our exact holdings by hand rank are as follows:
{air, 22, 33, 55, 77, 99, JJ, KK, AA nuts}

If the pot lays us 1:1 (with a pot sized bet), we have to call with 9s+ to keep our opponent indifferent to bluffing.

The part I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is this: If our opponent only bets the nuts and air for 2 combos, we're losing 3/5 pots--right? This same confusion is extending for me into my original question.

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Old 09-12-2017, 07:38 PM   #20
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

We also have a ton of value bets in such wide range spots as sb v bb, or btn vs bb in single raised pots. Let's example this thread up a bit:

I raise 3x on the button, small blind folds, big blind calls. 100bb effective.

flop 567r

check check.

turn T offsuit

check check.

river Q.

check and it's on me. I'd probably bet 1/2 to 3/4 pot depending on the strength of my hand with value stuff. Qx? 1/2 pot. Q6s? 3/4 pot. etc. I don't really have anything that can go for full pot value; I'll never check a set or a straight here twice in a row vs anyone with the rare exception of someone that overbets on the river way too much; I think the lost value here is too great to be compensated with river ev to justify such slowplays vs a huge % of the population.

Seems like J8o, J8s, J9o, J9s, all at low frequency because I'd often bluff the flop or turn with those combos, is the bottom of my range. If I'm vs a loose passive opponent that will play 92s and the like this way and let me win showdown with those hands, then I'll check as an exploit with my Jack high and expect to win sometimes. Vs players that don't have such bad non showdownable hands in the river checking range, I'll bluff those same hands that form the bottom of my range.

Now I'm quite curious to know what you guys think of that, and what would you bluff with on the river there?
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:42 PM   #21
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Quote:
If the pot lays us 1:1 (with a pot sized bet),
This never happens unless you're playing in a game with no blind bets; or you made a typo that should read "2:1 with a pot sized bet."

Even with infinite stacks, the price only approaches 1:1, but never reaches that value, provided that there are blind bets and or antes.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:43 PM   #22
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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This never happens unless you're playing in a game with no blind bets; or you made a typo that should read "2:1 with a pot sized bet."

Even with infinite stacks, the price only approaches 1:1, but never reaches that value, provided that there are blind bets and or antes.
Yes it was a mistake/brain malfunction
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:50 PM   #23
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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check and it's on me. I'd probably bet 1/2 to 3/4 pot depending on the strength of my hand with value stuff. Qx? 1/2 pot. Q6s? 3/4 pot. etc. I don't really have anything that can go for full pot value; I'll never check a set or a straight here twice in a row vs anyone with the rare exception of someone that overbets on the river way too much; I think the lost value here is too great to be compensated with river ev to justify such slowplays vs a huge % of the population.
Do you find that it is generally effective balancing multiple bet sizing ranges like this? My understanding was that it's generally better to size based on board texture alone.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:52 PM   #24
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

Before the river I change my bet size based on the ranges and board textures. I used to do the same for the river but within the past 6 months I've switched to multiple sizes on the river.
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:15 AM   #25
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Re: When to bluff in spots people think "we're never bluffing"

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We also have a ton of value bets in such wide range spots as sb v bb, or btn vs bb in single raised pots. Let's example this thread up a bit:

I raise 3x on the button, small blind folds, big blind calls. 100bb effective.

flop 567r

check check.

turn T offsuit

check check.

river Q.
Good use of example. In wide range spots, villains bluffcatch range is wide, so there's little use of blockers, and bluffing bottom of range is more important.

Wide range spots happen in small pots. In bigger, bloated pots, you will see ranges are tighter and blockers are more important.
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