When to Turn a Made Poker 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.

Some Showdown Value, More Bluff Value

$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.

Your Hand Has to Gain Equity

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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Ryan 2017-05-09 06:40:27

That's why you read your opponent. I've won more than a few hands because I smelled out weakness.

V 2014-11-16 00:39:30

Raj, even with what you classify as an overbet, you are offering 2.4 is to 1 odds to the villain - roughly the same odds the villain was offering you on the river.
A smaller raise by you and villain will have an easier decision.

Raj 2013-09-16 07:01:01

Shove in this situation would look like an overbet to me as the player with kings. The bluff you propose basically represents that you have trip jacks. The two flat calls support this. If the trips were real, they know they've won, and would make a raise for value instead of coming over the top all-in like that. The all-in reads as an overbet and would get called as an obvious bluff by a lot of players. On the other hand, a smaller sized raise that comes across as a being for value would get a lot of folds in the long run. I agree on coming over the top as a bluff here, but the amount is all wrong.

Mike 2010-02-07 03:39:31

Ha ha...... I would get called and he would show trip J.
I prefer to be a little more conservative than wagging my life in the wind on a hope and prayer.

Sean Lind 2009-10-02 21:06:00


You make a value-bet to take your opponent to value-town.

Howiedoit 2009-10-02 06:03:00

I would be sort of concerned that a card in my hand came out on the flop (8h) I would be calling for a misdeal.......

Smith 2009-10-02 05:20:00

Good article, but it should be longer.

Mobros 2009-10-02 02:42:00

What is the difference between value-betting and value-towning? Is it just slang?

kunnington 2009-10-01 22:27:00

What if your opponent thinks you have a busted flush draw and decides to call with a King, Queens, Tens or Nines¿

Is it correct to think that way¿

Daniel Skolovy 2009-10-01 19:39:00

Though that is possible. Most regs in this day raise their draws for max fold equity. So calling usually means a hand with showdown value. One that is unlikely you would turn into a bluff. Thus you would get more credit. Though of course if you get caught you just adjust to how your opponent will now perceive you.


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