When should we pull the trigger and when should we hold back? Paul Phua Poker asked Fedor Holz, Rui Cao, Sam Trickett, Timofey Kuznetsov, Koray Aldemir, Steve O’Dwyer and Lucas Greenwood about the best spots for a bluff.
Do you ever ask yourself, “How did we get here?” How did we get all the way to the river with diddly squat? And now we’re summoning up the courage to pull off the mightiest of all bluffs.
Oh, he called.
The truth is, we really shouldn’t be so surprised to find ourselves in this spot. The best players always plan well ahead – they’re streets ahead, literally. If we bet the turn, say, we should already be planning to bet the river, if called, or to give up, as appropriate.
Then there are a host of dynamics to think about when we’re considering our bluff. Can our opponent have the nuts? How many draws missed? Is he the type of player who can find a fold, or does he love to call? And what about our own table image? Have we been bluffing a lot or are we perceived as tight?
It all boils down to this point: are we in a good spot to bluff? We asked bluffers extraordinaire Fedor Holz, Rui Cao, Sam Trickett, Timofey Kuznetsov, Koray Aldemir, Steve O’Dwyer and Lucas Greenwood about how to figure out an optimal spot for pulling the trigger.
Rui Cao on Table image:
“l think, with bluffing, a big part is confidence and also other players seeing you. Sometimes when you win every pot they are scared of you. Sometimes when you are losing every pot, l just try to avoid bluffing because they think you are weak – you’re going to lose and they’re going to call you more.”
Sam Trickett: Know Your Enemy
“You can select when to bluff and when not to bluff, and you know, sometimes you play with an opponent time and time again, and you’ve got a certain history, and you build up a dynamic with players, and you figure out which spots they call in and which spots they fold in… But if you’ve not played with a player before – it’s like l just said before – just try and figure out how the guy’s thinking. … it’s all player dependent… every spot’s different, you know. l might bluff one spot against one player and then the next player l wouldn’t bluff that spot, just from the way l think he plays.”
Lucas Greenwood on Planning Ahead
“Normally, when I’m bluffing, it’s something I’ve set up over multiple streets. So a lot of times l play a game where I’m trying to play a pretty solid, straightforward game, and that also means that when l get to the end and I’ve have like a missed draw, or l just thought my opponent was weak and the board ran out with some good bailout cards, l don’t think it makes sense to get that far into the hand and give up, and sometimes you just get to the river and there’s a lot of money in, and you can’t win unless you bet, and so you’ve got to go for it.”