In this post, we are going to try and master the art of thinking in terms of GTO which is Game Theory Optimum for selecting which hands we want to bluff most with when we get to the River in certain pots.
There are going to be times when we play against Whales that will just be calling down our bets without any real reason, I have tried double barrelling my opponent off Ace high on a dangerous board and ended up firing the last bullet on the River to only get called down by no pair.
If we are playing against players like that then we need to adjust, adjusting to plays that call way too much is very easy, we just never bluff. The concepts we are looking at today are playing against players that we have no reads on or solid players that will be thinking and playing pretty logically until we know otherwise.
We are going to want to keep in mind Value to Bluff Ratios on our bet sizes, let’s take a look at these examples:
So what this chart means is that for each sizing we choose on the River we will want to match our value bets to bluffing frequency appropriately to make sure we cannot be easily exploited.
So when betting full pot-sized on the River, we will want to have 2 value hands for every 1 bluff. This means that some of the time when we bet this size we can get hero called and lose but the other 2 times we get looked up we will have the winner.
Playing with this level of balance is going to help our opponent make mistakes, they could either call and lose or fold where they could have won at any moment.
It’s worth mentioning as you will notice from the Ratios as we get into the lower bet sizes that we only want to use smaller bet sizes as we are more weighted towards value. The reason for this is pretty obvious, small bets apply less pressure and are called more often, so we will want to mainly have the best hand when we use these very small bets.
Finding our Bluffs
Let’s look at a hand where we are trying out our 3-Barrell bluff, we raised pre-flop, and bet 66% on the Flop and Turn, we are now at the River.
We get to this point with a tonne of hands that we are going to bet 66% of the Pot on the River with for value with a range of hands like AQ, AK, 87s+ KK and 88, that’s the easy part.
Now we need to find our ratio of 40% bluffs to work into our 2.5:1 value to bluff ratio. So which combinations should we include…
Let’s look at bluffing with JTo with a diamond here…
The idea of this selection process is that we want to have good removal of the hands that could easily call us, so we want to choose the best hands for this that we could find ourselves getting to the River with.
This hand is good because we block AJ, AT, KJ and KT from our opponent.
We also have a diamond in our hand which blocks hands like ATs QTs, JTs, T9s, T7s, T6s in diamonds.
As well as all this us having a Ten in our hand helps block some T8o hands too.
So this is what a good bluffing hand looks like, we block hands that are very likely to be in our opponent’s range of calls otherwise, this hand alone removes a huge selection of possible combinations in our opponent’s range.
Shut down with Hands that Have Bad Removal
When choosing our bluffs we want to keep in mind hands that remove hands that would have made different moves from our opponent at a previous point in the hand, so this hand blocks AQ, AJ and KQ for example. However our opponent flat called from the Big Blind Pre-Flop, our opponent is most likely going to 3-Bet these powerful hands most of the time, so we can’t give our opponent these hands in their range.
Another problem with using this hand as a bluff is that we don’t block any diamonds, so all the diamond flush combinations are possible in our opponent’s range now, which is a tonne of combos, so that’s pretty worrying.
This hand is a clear check-give up.
In Summary, we might never have the best bluffs in the world when we get to the River, but try and just rank them in your head as to how far up this hand is as a good bluff and then if you think it ranks pretty highly then pull the trigger, if however, you are finding that you don’t block any of the possible good hands in your opponent’s range then it’s a good time to give up.
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