The Genuine Deception of Low Stakes

It’s safe to say that most players who make big bets on the turn or the river do have it, but it would be crazy to think that they never bluff. It happens more often than you would care to admit. I have lost count of the number of times that a person shows me a bluff after winning a pot. These are the players that just decide to pile money into the pot. When they win, they are proud of themselves as if they had just reached the summit of Mount Everest. When they lose, they get angry, questioning how someone was able to find a call. Every time it happens, I make a mental note to adjust my game. Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t. They don’t realize that I didn’t call because I didn’t have a hand strong enough to bluff catch.

The most recent bluff that I was shown happened on an A-2-2-A board. I had raised pre-flop and was called by multiple players. Here is where the problem started for me in the hand. I was out of position and towards the bottom of my range, how could I possibly bet into a board where my opponents could easily have Ax? When one of my opponents decided to make a small bet, I could have folded. Instead, I decided to call because they could have just as many bluffs. When I saw the turn and faced another bet from my opponent, I didn’t put them on a full house right away. What are the chances that they could have a random Ax combo here? The answer to my question was that they could have a lot of random A little combos that they call with. I had to fold. I couldn’t justify calling again. After I folded, my opponent confidently showed the bluff, King-Seven off suit.

In the moment I really didn’t care. I folded the better hand, but the board and their aggression didn’t seem like it was worth it for me to put in my money. My opponent gave me some extra information that I was able to use against him later. As this player started to grow their chip stack, their willingness to play decreased. Eventually they looked down at the chips they had managed to accumulate and must have realized they were winning because they racked up and left. It’s amazing to see how different players will adjust once they start to win a few chips. Some players will fold more, others will call a lot, and others start to raise.

A couple of nights before I was shown the King-Seven bluff I found myself in a tough spot. The night started out like any other night. I had dinner, spent a little time with my family and when they went off to bed, I made my way down to the casino to play poker. Shortly after I arrived, one of my friends walked by and told me to check my DMs. I opened my phone and saw that he had messaged me. The message read, “Drunk guy on table 9 with over 2k super aggro and spewy.” I took a brief walk around the poker room to get a lay of the land and saw that this guy had a lot of chips in front of him. Unfortunately, it looked like all the players sitting there all knew the same thing that I had just discovered, the drunk guy was going to lose his money. Didn’t matter to me, I still put my name on the transfer list and hoped that I could get into the game. Even though the guy was drunk, in my opinion that was only one of the benefits of sitting at that game. The other one would be that the table would have a lot more action because everyone would be trying to pick up the drunk guy’s money. My plan would be to pick up the dead money from everyone else.

Eventually I was called for my table change, the drunk guy was still there, so I moved. As I sat down, I recognized a couple people at the table. One of them was a regular that rarely bluffs, and the other notable player was a guy from Spain whom I had just recently met through a mutual friend. My second hand there I flopped a set and doubled up. I had some chips to push around and make some plays. As I sat there, I started to make some observations about the table, there was a lot of calling. Specifically, I noticed that the Spanish player had a high vpip but each time he made it to show down, he would have a strong hand, but it wouldn’t always be the nuts. I kept my eye on him.  

We really didn’t play much against each other. Most of the time he folded a hand, or I folded a hand. Then it happened, we crossed paths, and the chips were piled in. There was a middle position limp and when it was on our Spanish friend’s turn to act, he made a small raise to $8 from the button. I was in the big blind and immediately recognized that he could be trying to steal. I looked down at my hand and woke up with Ace-King off suit and three-bet to $30. He smiled, looked down at his cards and said, “Are you going to try and rob me?”. I did not respond to his question, and he called. The flop was Jack-Eight-Queen with two spades. Not the best board in my opinion but not the worst board. I led out for $11, but he raised to $40. I could be ahead of my opponent here, they have a lot of draws, but they also have some pairs and two pairs. I called the raise. The turn came a King of clubs. Some of his draws just got there. My range also has some straight draws that just got there, so I led out. I made a bet of $125, and then he put me in the blender. My opponent jammed. I wanted to call but the more I thought about it the less bluffs I could find in his range. He had all kinds of two pairs like Q8, KJ, KQ. Some sets like, JJ and 88. All the straights like AT and T9. The question is would he really do this with a bluff or one pair hands? Even if I was ahead, how many clean river cards would I have? After tanking hard, I decided to fold. I didn’t like it but the way I played the hand was not my best and left me with more questions than answers. He showed me Ace-Two off suit, he didn’t even have the Ace of Spades!

Sometimes a player will recognize a spot where they can bluff you. He found the perfect spot to take advantage of my mistake and it worked out for him. I should have known better than to lead out in that spot. I wrote down the hand so that I could review it later. There is just as much value in studying my tougher opponents as there is in outplaying the fishier opponents. I may not ever see a similar spot again because I don’t think I will play my hand or range like that again, but it is better to be prepared. You never know when you will be facing a bluff, but when you find out that it was a bluff. You want to learn from it and not get your emotions in the way of what could have been.

Bizzy’s 2024 Gains: $274.75

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