I was playing 1/3 cash game. The table overall was fairly passive with all intelligent players, although none at a pro level. In this hand I raised to ten with A5 in middle position and got three callers – two after me and the SB. I usually don’t play A5 in middle position, but it was such a passive table that it was worth playing for a raise.
The flop was 77J and the board played out until the river with no betting. The river card put a full house on the board: 77JJ7. At this point I figured I could make a bet to buy the pot – at worst I might get called to split the pot. But the SB opened with a $20 bet. I figured he was trying to buy the pot and I immediately went into bluffing mode.
A simple bluff would just be to put in a raise. But I want it to be believed so I do much more than just a simple bluff.
First false tells: I sat up, laughed at the SB and said, “What did you do that for?” It’s very uncharacteristic of me to do much talking at all during a hand. Most intelligent players know that someone changing their behavior like that during a hand and becoming chatty shows strength.
Second false tells: I quickly became serious, carefully stacked a $65.00 raise on top of the $20.00 call, and slid it slowly across the betting line. How would you read these tells?
The two players after me folded, and after a little thought, the SB folded showing J8! I was shocked. The only hand he couldn’t beat was quads. He was convinced I had it.
Representing a hand is not just a matter of betting it to represent. Your whole body language and other tells need to tell the same story. I was bluffing. I wasn’t thinking that I needed to represent the quads – just any hand that beat the board. But I told such a convincing story that the SB was convinced he was beat, regardless of the strength of his hand.
The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.” For poker, make that “Be aware.” Specifically, be aware of how your opponents see you. Sometimes the other players are only paying attention to the simple stuff like bets and the strength of their own hand. Often however, there are other players who pay attention to much more. Make sure they see what you want them to see, so that they read your story the way you tell it. When you do that, your bluffs will always be the best bluff you ever made. And once in awhile you may find that you especially needed it to be, as I did.