Anyone can pull of a bluff when they don’t think their opponent has a hand and often in that situation you can be bluffing with the best hand. However, making your opponent lay down a hand is something different altogether and making them lay down a full house, forget about it.
With four left in a heat of the PartyPoker Premier League VI it folds to Phil Hellmuth in the small blind and he just limps for 16,000 with Ks-9s, Daniel Negreanu min-raises to 32,000 with 8s-6c and Hellmuth just calls. This establishes three crucial parts of the dynamic of this hand. Firstly Negreanu has the betting lead, secondly he has reinforced the fact he has position and thirdly it makes it more likely for him to have an ace in his range than if he’d just checked.
“This is one of those weird hands,” says Hellmuth who checks dark (making it even weirder) even before the Ac-As-Kd flop fall onto the felt. A check behind by Negreanu sees Hellmuth continue his passive line checking dark again only to see the 9c roll off on the turn. Another check by Negreanu and this hand looks to fizzling out fast.
The 9d river sees Hellmuth say, “Now I have to bet something,” and he fires out a small bet of 20,000 into a pot of 84,000. Negreanu knowing that Hellmuth doesn’t have an ace, also knowing that Hellmuth can make big laydowns and knowing that Hellmuth knows it’s possible that Negreanu has an ace, judges his man perfectly and slides out a raise to 140,000. “It’s bluff or ace,” says Phil Laak in the commentary box. The Poker Brat leans towards the latter and Hellmuth damn near insta-folds, “just bad luck,” says Kid Poker to him, but it was anything but.
5 tips on how to pull off the perfect bluff
So what can we learn about bluffing in a wider context from this hand that might just be added to the bulging file of ‘hands that make fun of Phil Helmuth?’
1) Your bluff, like a good lie, must make sense.
2) Bluffing is easier in position as you have more information with which to make a decision.
3) You must know your opponent when making a bluff. You can’t bluff a calling station as they won’t fold anything.
4) Remember that when you break it down a bluff is a bet designed to make a better hand fold. So you must credibly be able to represent a hand better than the one you’re hoping to make fold.
5) Bluffs work better against one opponent. The more opponents in a hand against you the more likely it is someone has a hand, so you bluff less frequently.
What are you best tips for bluffing? Let us know in the comments below.