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The Singularity of Bluffing

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PoorUser    United States. Nov 02 2007 15:05. Posts 7326

For as long as I’ve been playing poker I’ve had the idea of expected value drilled into my head. My goal every hand is to play it in a way that will show the most profit on average over the span of my poker career. Lines can be broken down into estimated degrees of expected value. The ultimate result of a hand does not really affect the total expected value of a play. If a person 4 bet shoves KQ vs AA pf for a full buy-in vs an incredibly tight player and flops QQQ it is still a –EV play despite the fact that the player with KQ took down the pot. Trying to play +EV poker and steer away from the results oriented view of hands is basically the mantra of grinders of all limits; and with good reason.

However, there are large instances where this line of thinking is flawed; all of which relate to bluffing. Bluffing is arguably the most complex action in poker. When executing a serious bluff, every possible factor must be taken into account. Most bluffs are so singular and unique because of all the factors it’s hard to imagine a long term EV of any serious bluff.

In general, I try to take an overly simple approach to poker. If somebody goes all-in and I feel I have the best hand I will always call, if I feel as if I’m behind I will probably fold (lol). Similarly, bluffing is incredibly complex but the end measure of the effectiveness of a bluff is ultimately whether the other person called or not. If you are able to make your opponent fold when you hold a weaker holding you have made a good bluff. Concurrently, if an opponent decides to look you up when you are bluffing you have made a bad bluff. It’s a simple idea and I believe that most people would tend to agree about its accuracy. However, I feel that understanding this concept and being able to apply it are two different things. I’m hoping an example might clear this up.

Let’s say you get dealt AsQs at 10/20 blinds with a $3700 stack. You raise from the cutoff and the button calls who covers, folds around after. The flop comes Jc6s4c and you continue for $140 and the button calls. The turn comes 2s giving us a flush draw and it’s likely either our ace or queen is an out. We figure we are sitting out on 12 outs. We think about firing a second barrel at first. Unfortunately, not much changed on the board and it’s likely that if he is going to call the flop bet he will call the turn bet a decent amount of the time as well. We decide his hands are most likely a Jx, hands like 67 or 45 or clubs. We don’t believe he has a set here since it is a drawy board and we are over a buyin deep and he just called the flop. However, we are also sure that if we check to him he is going to bet his whole range (and when we look at his range it’s fairly weak plus if he has a flush draw it’s a good spot to destroy him). Ultimately, with about 12 outs, we decide to check with the intention of check-raising. We check to the button who bets 300, the action comes back to us and we make it $1020. The button rattles down the clock and eventually calls. After his call we put him on a flush draw maybe 60% of the time and maybe Jx 40% of the time. The river comes Kd. We bricked out on all of our outs but that’s ok if button had a flush draw he missed too. If he has Jx he’s most likely folding to a push. If he has Kxcc we still have decent fold equity against that hand too and we don’t have to be worried about KJcc ever because it is impossible. We push for 2500 and button lets his 2 minute time bank roll down to six seconds before calling with JT. Naturally, we are pretty angry and probably berate him in the chat box for a few minutes saying things like ‘how can you call that with a jack, I put you on that before I pushed’ or plainer ‘you suck’.

That’s all well and good. However, despite our kickass thinking it was still our fault that we got stacked. We assumed he would fold Jx there because it was a weak holding and we were trying our best to show a lot of strength in a four buyin pot. We made an accurate read of his holding and hand strength and assumed he would fold. Because of this, we tell him he made a bad call when we actually made a bad bluff. Simplistically, no matter how terrible it seems, no call of a bluff can ever be bad. Even to the point of if some guy was just awful and called with 33 the whole way through. His call is fundamentally good in that specific instance because he won the pot. Your range may have him crushed there 95% of the time but in this specific instance you did not. Your bluff was bad because he called. If the exact same hand happened against a different player and he folded JT (or 33) then your bluff would be good. A mistake that many people make when bluffing is that they do not relate probable hand strengths to the actual person holding the hand’s thought process or the dynamic at the current moment. This is a very hard thing to do and we will often forget to, or inaccurately assess this relationship. We made a mistake thinking he would fold JT when he wouldn’t and that is our fault. Each bluff is so intensive and so specific for this very reason.

All this said, I can still allot for some times where it’s just common to bluff. One example is if (in or oop) you bet a dry flop (like J74 rainbow) and get a call, and an Ace turns. You are up against somebody you know nothing about but more often than not you will fire a second barrel on the turn just because everything you’ve learned from poker tells you that the average person will fold to a second barrel on an Ace turn.

All in all this is a pretty extreme look on the effectiveness on bluffing and should be taken minorly with grain of salt. The point of all of this is to get people to better, or more consciously think about the relationship between hand strength and the person playing the hand (as well as dynamic and anything else) while making a bluff against them.

Hope all of this helped.

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Moneys gotta go in hereLast edit: 02/11/2007 15:10

lachlan   Australia. Nov 02 2007 15:39. Posts 6991

i read it all, pity no-one folds at NL10

full ring 

twotimesopt   United States. Nov 02 2007 16:04. Posts 2393

nice article PU - would be cool if you could follow it up w/ some analysis of a few hands where bluffs were successful/unsuccessful and why you thought it was a good spot to bluff at the time.

quit tryin to be a repo man - definitely -EV and negative expectancy - AvidGambler 

nlwolf   United Kingdom. Nov 02 2007 16:07. Posts 308


  On November 02 2007 14:05 PoorUser wrote:
Your bluff was bad because he called.



I don't get this. Assume your river bluff folds 80% of his range, but he calls with JT (because its his favourite hand) and you lose.
Why was your bluff was bad here?

Chinese School of Poker 

k2o4   United States. Nov 02 2007 16:12. Posts 4758

More about catching bluffs =)

Nada 

Konnor   Burundi. Nov 02 2007 16:15. Posts 367

because he called


whaackum   United States. Nov 02 2007 16:50. Posts 1586

well written poor, thanks

The W. 

Stygg   Sweden. Nov 02 2007 16:53. Posts 2347


  On November 02 2007 15:07 nlwolf wrote:
Show nested quote +



I don't get this. Assume your river bluff folds 80% of his range, but he calls with JT (because its his favourite hand) and you lose.
Why was your bluff was bad here?




It's an extreme way of thinking, but what he means is that you failed to realize how villain was thinking. Maybe you didn't know villain was somewhat tilted, maybe you weren't paying attention to the table dynamics, maybe it was the fact that villain had folded to big river bets at least twice the last five minutes prior to this hand.. whatever the reason, we failed to see that villain would call even though we put him on JT and made, in our own mind, a great bluff.

anyone who masters this kind of thinking is a champ. for me personally, I'll just go back to berating people who call with top pair when I'm repping overpair

very nice article


nutshot   United States. Nov 02 2007 17:04. Posts 4539

welldone steve

BJLTNYK: d00000000000000000000000000000000000000d 

qwerty67890   New Zealand. Nov 02 2007 17:56. Posts 14026

sweet


Sixpeppers   United States. Nov 02 2007 18:49. Posts 179

I like it, but I still feel that since noone knows everyone elses exact psychological state, or their exact playing preferences, bluffing "this Type" of player is the common line, which leads to bluffing and getting called and still thinking the bluff is "a good bluff." You just don't always have enough information. Of course you covered this with your "on average" bet the Ace turn scenario. But I feel that almost every scenario has some amount of "averages" built into it. I mean, if you make a bluff putting your opponent on a range where the probability of them having a set or a monster is small, and they flat call with a set or a monster, was the bluff bad because they had a set, or range wise was it good because they fold everything else and almost never have the monster????

I get the point you are bringing out and I love it!!! More food for thought

Your a towel 

casinocasino   Canada. Nov 02 2007 18:49. Posts 3250

I dont get this article


twotimesopt   United States. Nov 02 2007 19:13. Posts 2393


  Your bluff was bad because he called. We made a mistake thinking he would fold JT when he wouldn’t and that is our fault.


i disagree. i think it's important to note that we are bluffing against a RANGE of hands, not just a particular hand. and I still think that we are ALWAYS trying to maximize EV with every check, bet, or fold in poker

the way i see it, a bluff consists of two parts:
(1) an approximation of the villain's range
(2) the conclusion that, given this approximation, a bluff causes a fold often enough to be profitable

If (1) or (2) is flawed, then it was a bad bluff. If they are both true, then it was a good bluff. Notice this assessment is completely results-blind.

I hate disagreeing with you PU b/c you're clearly the man. You seem to be advocating a viewpoint that is very contrary to mine, and I'd be very eager to hear any thoughts from you on this. cheers.

quit tryin to be a repo man - definitely -EV and negative expectancy - AvidGambler 

albonycee   United States. Nov 02 2007 19:42. Posts 2749

tl;dr














just playing. great article, write more plz.

(insert stupid shit)aments 

Oly   United Kingdom. Nov 02 2007 19:46. Posts 3566


  On November 02 2007 18:13 twotimesopt wrote:
Show nested quote +


i disagree. i think it's important to note that we are bluffing against a RANGE of hands, not just a particular hand. and I still think that we are ALWAYS trying to maximize EV with every check, bet, or fold in poker

the way i see it, a bluff consists of two parts:
(1) an approximation of the villain's range
(2) the conclusion that, given this approximation, a bluff causes a fold often enough to be profitable

If (1) or (2) is flawed, then it was a bad bluff. If they are both true, then it was a good bluff. Notice this assessment is completely results-blind.

I hate disagreeing with you PU b/c you're clearly the man. You seem to be advocating a viewpoint that is very contrary to mine, and I'd be very eager to hear any thoughts from you on this. cheers.


To me he is advocationg a part (1.1) The villains personal preference for calling now, which is not a range but a fact and however difficult it may be, a possibly knowable one.

Whereas when you call you are just mathematically fighting the range.Thats what I got out of it anyway, so I hope I learnt something.

Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated. 

rnbsalsa88   United States. Nov 02 2007 20:08. Posts 821

excellent article... a very commonly misunderstood concept for sure.

United We Sit 

Siro   Australia. Nov 02 2007 20:20. Posts 1540

Hmm..

You say it's a bad bluff because he called, but isnt that results orientated?

You bet(bluff) against his conceived range of hands, if he only calls with 10% of his holdings. Surely it's +EV? Even if he did call that one time?

Good chance it's over my head, but I really don't understand.


twotimesopt   United States. Nov 02 2007 20:35. Posts 2393


  On November 02 2007 18:46 Oly wrote:
Show nested quote +



To me he is advocationg a part (1.1) The villains personal preference for calling now, which is not a range but a fact and however difficult it may be, a possibly knowable one.

Whereas when you call you are just mathematically fighting the range.Thats what I got out of it anyway, so I hope I learnt something.



isn't (1.1) encompassed by (2)?

i.e., "the villain's personal preference for calling in this spot" is encompassed by "our conclusion that a bluff here causes him told fold enough to be profitable given his range"?.

i don't see the difference if there is one, it seems like (1.1) = (2)

quit tryin to be a repo man - definitely -EV and negative expectancy - AvidGambler 

MiPwnYa    Brasil. Nov 02 2007 20:40. Posts 5227

I think this article is in contradiction with Jman's article "GBucks". Pooruser treats each bluff as one specific spot that only happens once ("Singularity of bluffing" whereas Jman thinks more in terms of hand ranges / % of time you show up with a bluff / % of time you show up with the winning hand in an usual spot that may happen several times.

 Last edit: 02/11/2007 20:41

lachlan   Australia. Nov 02 2007 20:49. Posts 6991


  On November 02 2007 19:40 MiPwnYa wrote:
I think this article is in contradiction with Jman's article "GBucks". Pooruser treats each bluff as one specific spot that only happens once ("Singularity of bluffing" whereas Jman thinks more in terms of hand ranges / % of time you show up with a bluff / % of time you show up with the winning hand in an usual spot that may happen several times.


who is jman never heard of him

full ringLast edit: 02/11/2007 20:49

 
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