Bluffing with Relative Position

Bluffing with Relative Position

A few weeks ago I played an interesting hand in the $5-10NL $1500 cap game at the Commerce Casino. It was late on a Friday night and the game was generally loose and good, and I had just moved to the table. The villain in this hand was in the big blind, but was totally unknown to me. During my first orbit at the table I decided to raise from UTG with 5 ♥ 6 ♥, albeit a pretty light open to $35. Much to my dismay the hijack, button and big blind all called usually forcing me to make a hand in order to win the pot.

I got one of the best flops for my hand, K♥ 3♠ 4♣, giving me an open ended straight draw plus a backdoor flush draw. Unexpectedly the unknown villain in the big blind led out at the pot for $60. Because I had raised from UTG my range was pretty strong and I was a bit torn between raising to put pressure on the big blind or just calling. The problem was that the two players in position were decent and aware and I thought that they could put me in a tough spot if they realized that my flop raise was a bit unbalanced. I did not think that the blind was super strong, as players do not usually lead out with sets on such a dry board, but I decided to just call. Both the players behind me folded and we saw a 4♠ turn headsup.

At this point I expect the big blind to check a lot with his kings, as I showed a lot of strength calling next to act on the flop. With two players behind me usually I am forced to fold pairs between 4s and queens leaving me with big kings, sets AA etc. If the big blind lead out on the flop with a hand like KT or KJ he is behind a lot when I call. But, my opponent continued to lead, this time for $130. It is also important to note that with the 4 pairing the combinations of flopped sets goes down from six combinations to four now, and most player might check the turn with a full house or quads. So I still thought that the big blind was sort of blindly betting with a king. Given the pot odds I was getting ($130 for $390) plus the hidden implied odds of hitting my straight, I concluded that this was a clear-cut call. Against a king I had eight outs out of forty-four unseen cards. That meant that I had 8/44 chance of hitting or 1/5.5. I would need to win at least 4.5 times his turn bet from the total pot to make the call profitable, or in this case $595. Facing the bet the pot was already $390, so I would only need to make an extra $205 to reach this goal. After my turn call this only represents 40% of the pot on the river, which is why I decided to continue on.

Unfortunately for me, the river rolled off an off suit ten, leaving me with just six high. Now my opponent checked. Normally at this level, I am not in the business of trying to move players off of top pair, but I thought that this spot was just too good. You see, once I raised preflop from UTG, AND called the flop and turn bets my range was very strong. Usually I have a hand that is at least KTs and I thought that if I bet large it would be extremely difficult for the big blind to call with just a king. If I had held KQ or better and got to this river I would have had a clear value bet as I would not expect the big blind to check KT, which now runs into top two pair. So I used all of this information and decided to fire large, $550, almost the entire size of the pot. However, my opponent took about three seconds with his decision and called with K8os.

The funny thing here, is, especially with the rainbow board, the only draw that I have that has missed is 56s specifically or four combinations. I have six combos of AA, 6 combos of AK, and six combos of KQ in my range. Occasionally I might also have one combo of a full house or quads that I may have played this way. My “range advantage” given my opponents line and this board run out was too favorable for me to not bluff here at the end especially with no showdown value. When I got called by IDN Poker, I temporarily felt a bit sheepish, but realized that my bet was highly profitable.
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