Sometimes a bluffing hand becomes a bluff catcher given the action
About a week ago I was in a very wild $5-10NL game at the Commerce Casino. Stacks were very deep, where the average was about $5000 and this was rare since the buy in is capped at $1500.
I had a pretty good image and was up about $3500 for the session and sat with $5000. The game was wild with a lot of recreational players coming into almost every hand. There were a few of pros in the game but they were generally losing and on tilt. The villain in this hand was one of those pros. He sat with $4000 to start the hand but had to be down at least as much in the session. He was a younger, European kid that could not have been more than 25 years old. In the past I knew that he was a bit “three bet happy” preflop but thought that he played rather straightforward post flop.
In this particular hand I was on the button and looked down at A♥ Q♠. One recreational player with a $6000 stack limped in and a very tight reg raised to $35 in the cutoff. I decided to just flat as I wanted to keep the rec player in and thought that I dominated the preflop raiser. Low and behold the villain in the small blind took a peak at his cards and three bet to $200. The limper called as did the reg. At this point I seriously considered back raising to pick up the dead money but with this stack depth, my position and the control I thought that I had over the table I decided to call and play post flop.
The board came out K♥ 6♥ 6♣ totally whiffing me. The villain came out and quickly bet $400 into the $800 pot. Both players in front of me folded and after a few second of thought I decided to call. I thought that there was a very good chance that I could still have the best hand if the sb was 3 betting preflop with Ax plus I had the A♥ in my hand giving some credibility to representing hearts if they came in and I thought that I needed to bluff.
The turn brought the 3♦ and my opponent quickly checked. I checked back thinking that I was either ahead of him with my good ace high or that he was not going to fold out a better hand. The river came the T♥ completing the front door flush and without much though the villain checked again. At this point I was a bit torn. I knew that I could have the best hand a lot of the time but did not want to showdown ace high just in case my opponent had some stupid holding like A3, 66, a T etc. I thought that this card was such a good river for my flop call, check turn, bet river range that I could get almost everything from the villain to fold. So I decided to bet half pot, $800, giving myself a good price on my bluff.
My opponent looked visibly pained and after about a minute or two looked seriously like he was going to fold. But then he took another minute—then another. I could see things working through his head. After about another three minutes of deliberation he quietly told the dealer all-in which was another $2600 on top.
This was something that I was never expecting. It seemed so odd to me that my opponent would ever have what he was representing. Remember, I had the A♥ in my hand so this guy was trying to tell me the story that he had KK, TT or 66. None of these hands made sense to me based about the betting patterns of the hand and more importantly his pacing. If he had had TT he would have had to Cbet into 3 other people on a king high board and then check without much thought on the river. Even if he was the best poker actor in the world I found it hard to believe that he would do so with such pacing when he rivered what would be perceived as a nut hand. The same thing could be said for KK or quad 66s.
The problem was, for me however, the strength of my hand, which now turned from a bluff to a bluff catcher. If this guy was doing some kamikaze play with a pair, say 77 or a T or even a K that he thought was not good—I lose. And of course there was an outside chance he actually did have a strong hand, even though I thought it was unlikely. So as much as I thought that he was bluffing I concluded that my hand was not strong enough to bluff catch and finally folded. My opponent then triumphantly tabled ATos for a pair of Ts, apparently thinking that he was using his blocker as a fullhouse bluff. Little did he know that he had the best hand and that if I was considering calling him with AQ high that there was no way in the world that I was ever folding a flush or even a hand like KTs.