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Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

Deception is a vital tactic in poker. Usually, when a player talks about a deceptive play, he's referring to a bluff - a time when he represented a hand of greater value than the one he held. But this isn't the only deception available in poker - not by a long shot. If you study your opportunities thoroughly, you can use the threat of a bluff to engage in another type of deception, one in which you're trying to convince an opponent that you are bluffing when, in fact, you have a great hand.

Say you're playing in a No-Limit cash game and things are going well. You've been playing actively and aggressively. You've been firing at a lot of pots, using a combination of good cards and well-timed small bluffs to pick up a number of them. To your tablemates, it seems as if you're trying to capture every chip on the table. They're starting to grow suspicious and feel you're getting greedy.

With the table in this mindset, you call a middle position raise from the big blind. You're holding modest cards - 6d-8d. The flop comes 7c-4h-Qs. You now have a gutshot straight draw and check. You're opponent bets half the pot and you call, feeling that if you hit, you can win a big pot. The turn is the Tc. Now you have a double gutshot draw - any 5 or 9 will make a straight.

At this point, put out a large bet. If your opponent holds Jacks or Ace-King, he'll likely fold. If he's got Aces or Kings, he'll probably call. And, if so, you'll know he holds a good hand that he's willing to defend.

The river brings a 9, completing your straight. Now you can use you're aggressive image to your advantage. Move all-in, even if the bet is two, three or four times the size of the pot. To your opponent, it's bound to look like a bluff. Your bet will seem ridiculously large and impulsive. If you had the nuts, he'd reason, you'd bet smaller, trying to get some value. He'll look at his big pocket pair, feeling that he needs to make a stand against your relentless play. This deceptive play where you're actually representing a bluff will give you a chance to win a huge pot.

If your opponent folds, you'll want to make a note. You'll know he folded a big hand and might be willing to make other lay downs in the future. But, you don't want to push this guy too hard. If you force him to make two or three big lay downs, he's sure to call you down later. When he's reached that state of mind, make sure you have a big hand the next time you play a pot together.

No-Limit poker offers some great opportunities for deception. As you develop your game, look for spots where bluffs and the threat of bluffs can win you big pots.

Huckleberry Seed
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