Sniffing out a bluff in pre-flop hand reading!

Each and every action taken by poker players at the table be it online or offline reveals great deal of information about their holdings and enables any savvy hand reader to zoom-in on his range of possible hole cards. That is why it is often much easier to figure out what a player has in Texas Hold’em poker on the river or the flop and the flop does a lot to define a hand in hold ‘em, which many newbie players do not bother to think about, what their opponent may have until they have seen it.

But this can be a costly mistake. The pre-flop ranges are often much tighter than the people would like to assume and a lot of players have seemingly predictable tendencies at certain pre-flop spots. Keeping yourself alert to notice these tendencies will give you a jump start on the hand or provide the key to sniffing the bluff out.

How to sniff a bluff out in pre-flop round:

A second hand occurred at a 6 handed table for $2/$4. A very loose playing passive poker player opened with a limped in CO, then the opponent raised to $16 with a, Ad Td on the Button, another player playing pretty tight aggressively called this raise from the SB, he was a regular, the limper folded at this point. Now, as per our HUD the CO was 45/15 with a 5 percent 3-betting and the SB was with a 3 –bet of 8 percent with 20/16.

So, needless to mention the loose player, open limper was definitely a very weak player and you should be raising him aggressively. The SB was definitely aware of this predicament and with his 3 bet of 8%, it showed that he was surely capable of re-raising without a premium hand. While it was not as dramatic as many players can be his statistics did indicate a strong preference for playing as the pre-flop aggressor. Usually such players are especially likely to re-raise out of the blinds, as they would have preferred to end the hand immediately, rather than playing from out of position after the flop.

So, all of this finally boiled down to the SB, who had a pretty tight range of cold calling along with a weaker player who was very likely to come around the flop. But he did fold this time; the CO called the raises after limping pretty often, in this case the SB would have been justified with cold calling hands like suited connectors or even suited broad way cards. Now that we have an idea of his general preference for raising and then re-raising, and though one might suspect that he would end up 3-betting the hands because he could understand his opponent’s range was pretty wide out. So, one may expect this cold calling range to be highly weighed towards small and medium pairs only.

Now both the players witnessed the flop that read 8s 2c 6c, one checked, the other one also checked behind him, did not expect his opponent to fold his pocket pairs. The turn was Ac, this led to checking by one player and this made the other feel compelled to bet. The opponent followed with a raise. In this case there were several good reasons to suspect a bluff. Firstly, the player may not have expected the opponent to check on a flush draw on the flop. And in such a case a club would seem to be a good enough reason to bluff. Then again the one who bet only did a small amount suggesting his hand wasn’t too great either. This was further supported by the fact that the turn showed AT without a club, which acted as a good bluff-catcher.

The important thing to note here is that the player did not expect his opponent to have too many combos of suited cards in his pre-flop range. With holding small pairs he would not be very happy about the turn card, although he might be able to justify calling anyway, representing the flush would have to seem like an appealing option to him. That was a string sign that he was heavily weighted towards bluffs and consequently that player B should bluff-catch very often. However, his opponent called got the 8d on the river, the first player ended up betting $151 into the pot of $204, the second decided to stick to his readings and called again. The show down opened with player 1 having 5’s without a club, so the other player ended up winning a big pot because of his good bluff catching skills.

In conclusion, it is never too early in the hand to start considering about what your opponents might have. This kind of hand reading is essential when you are in the face of a big river decision, but ideally the idea of your opponents’ ranges will influence every action you take at a poker game.

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