When to Turn a Made Hand Into a Bluff

Jamie Gold

We all know that turning a made hand into a bluff by accident can be a pretty serious mistake.

If a worse hand is never going to call and a better hand is never going to fold, you've successfully done just that - made a big mistake.

But quite often a better hand will fold and you can take the very bottom of your showdown-value range, turn it into a bluff and get a laydown.

Basically you take a hand that has some showdown value and give it more value as a bluff.

An example:

$1/$2 No-Limit game; effective stacks $300.

You're dealt 7 8. Your good, hand-reading opponent raises to $8 and you call on the button.

The flop comes 8 J K. Your opponent bets $14 and you call. The turn comes J. Your opponent bets $30 and you call again.

The river comes 3 and your opponent bets $70. You raise to $248 all-in and your opponent folds.

You took a hand that had some showdown value (a pair of eights) and turned it into a bluff to get a fold from a better hand (a pair of kings).

In a spot like this, turning your hand into a bluff works especially well because your eights don't have a a ton of showdown value. You basically can only beat a stone-cold bluff.

Calling here vs. his range is probably bad. If you look at your opponent's third-barrel range, it's much wider than just hands that can bet and profitably call a shove.

Our opponent can be barreling with missed draws, value-betting good kings, value-towning with aces and, of course, he could be firing with a jack. Of those hands, only the three jacks can really profitably call your shove.

Michael Binger
Your hand has to be weak enough to gain equity by turning it into a bluff.

The best part about this scenario is that you can't often be bluffing in this spot in your opponent's eyes. You flat-called the flop and flat-called the turn.

Generally that's a sign of a made hand, and opponents won't expect you to all of a sudden turn that made hand into a bluff. Your range in his eyes seems very strong, and with the second jack falling you can very credibly rep that jack.

Which is why it's such a profitable play. Your opponents don't expect it. You're bluffing in a spot where you can only have made hands. It makes your bluff that much more credible.

The key component in turning your made hand into a bluff is that your hand strength can't be so strong that you have more equity in seeing a showdown. Your hand has to actually gain equity when you turn it into a bluff.

If it meets that criteria and you're up against someone that can read hands, you have a great spot to do it. Your opponent will never expect you to ruin a hand with showdown value by bluffing it!

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