UK Poker Player Poker Strategy Articles How to Play Against a Bluffer

How to Play Against a Bluffer

Posted by David Cowell on October 28, 2010 at 12:49 BST

One of the more valuable benefits of regularly taking notes, is that when you arrive at a table, you already know most of the betting actions of the opponents you are about to face. Sometimes this can help determine which table you actually play on as, if you have a history of taking money from a particularly loose player, you may wish to track him down and fill your pockets once more! However, to get to that scenario, you first have to meet him and beat him.

The first time you meet a chronic bluffer on the tables, it is sometimes quite difficult to determine whether they have been dealt successive premium pocket cards, if they are a regular tight player who is varying their style to throw everybody else off the scent, or if they are a player involved in a game way below the level they should be playing. As time goes by, you will get the answer to all three of these possibilities, and once you have identified your adversary as a true loose, aggressive player, it is time to take advantage of his playing style.

Bluffers aim to pick up pots by making a bet large enough to scare off the opposition, but not so large that it will leave him in trouble if the bluff fails to come off – so this is not a strategy to be tried against a player you think is bluffing when he shoves all-in.

The key to playing a bluffer is to get in front of him in the betting, check through your hand (or call the minimum if betting pre-flop) and let the bluffer have his bet. Then, depending on how many calls there when the betting comes round to you again – re-raise him.

This should only be attempted if there are no other re-raises on the table and no more than one other call, because the idea of the re-raise is to get your bluffer to fold and not to get into a battle with a third player. It is also best done when you have a number of outs in your hand or premium opening cards – so you have some weight to bet with – and ideally with a bet at least three times the size of his.

The first time you perform this “check-raise” they will expect you to have a good hand. The second and third times, they will be wary of you, and by the fourth time, you will have stopped them bluffing each time you check through. Obviously, if they call your re-raise, or even three bet you, you know that they have a good hand, but overall you will have stopped them bluffing when behind you on the table and you will have found a bluffer you can take advantage of on future occasions.