Bluffing scare cards

It’s easy to spot a flush draw. As opponents become more skillful they recognize when flushes are a good part of your ra...

Posted Feb 28, 2012

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Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

It’s easy to spot a flush draw. As opponents become more skillful they recognize when flushes are a good part of your range and pay you off less. Normally you don’t see players making big calls with straight draws or middle pair but why not? If players are going to fold when the third suit comes out, can we not profitably represent flushes with our other draws? The answer is an emphatic yes.

In fact, I actually prefer to draw to straights in NL cash games because I will bluff scary flush cards. Let’s say a player from early position raises, MP calls and you call with 7 8 . The flop comes out 5 6 K. The early position player comes out and bets close to pot. He’s tight, and you know that he will almost always have at least a king if he bets in to multiple opponents. You also know that he is capable of laying down hands when the obvious draw comes in. You call. The turn is the J. He comes out and bets big again. Your open ended straight draw is only 8 outs and with his sizing you are not getting the right price to call. However, what if you decide to use a club as a bluff? Now, your draw has increased to 15 outs and the cards that make your hand are hidden. If a club comes you can bluff at the pot. If a 4 or 9 come there is a very good chance that you will get value as it looks like you’ve busted a flush draw. It’s the best of both worlds actually.

You can use the same approach making big calls with second or bottom pair. Say in the above example we hold 7 6 . We are pretty sure that the cbetter again has at least a king but we continue on planning to bluff the flush. On the turn, we call another big bet; skewing our range towards flush draws. On the river we have 14 good cards to win the hand—9 club outs to bluff and another 5 two pair or trip outs. The key here is that the outs that make our hand are hidden and the flush draw is very apparent.

Beware, don’t get too fancy. For the same reason that this play works profitably I would not recommend going for flush draws and bluffing when straights come in.

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