Monday, April 16, 2007

The River-Call Bluff

Often, after being called on a river-bluff, a player will try to avoid having to show the hand he bluffed with. Technically, having been called on the river, the bluffer is required to show his hand first, but obviously he'd rather not have to show a hand he knows is going to lose anyway. If the caller doesn't immediately show his hand, the bluffer will often act like he is about to muck his hand and say something like "you win," trying to pressure the caller into showing his cards. Being rather non-confrontational, I've usually been inclined to acquiesce to this ploy and show my cards if I've called someone's bluff. I think I'm going to stop doing this. The main reason is that I'd really like to know what people are trying to bluff with, and by showing my cards first I forfeit my right to see what the bluffer had. I've occassionally told the bluffer to "show or muck," and although this tends to upset and offend the bluffer, it has the desired effect of forcing the bluffer to show before I do. Most of the time the bluffer will show his hand, but it's not uncommon for him to opt to just muck it. This result is especially desirable for me because, when my opponent mucks first, I don't need to show my hand either. This way my opponents won't figure out the types of hands I'm willing to call bluffs with.

Other times, a bluffer will immediately just show or muck his hand immediately after being called on a bluff without going through this ordeal. Personally, I usually just show my hand immediately.

After playing with particular players for long enough, I can often place them in one of these four categories based on how they react to having their bluff called: always show, always muck, reluctantly show, reluctantly muck.

This has led me to occasionally consider a play I've never heard of before. I think I may have just invented it. Hopefully, like Daisuke Matsuzaka and the gyroball, I will become legendary for using this play even though I never actually have tried it. I call it: "The River-Call Bluff". I'm pretty sure it can only work in live play (as opposed to online), and it can probably only be used profitably against players you know from experience bluff a lot and fall into either the "always muck" or "reluctantly muck" categories. It would also help if your opponent is aware of your tendency to resist pressure to show your hand first after calling a river-bluff; this way the bluffer won't suspect what you're trying.

This is how the River-Call Bluff works: Your opponent bets on the river, and you suspect it is a bluff. However, your hand is so weak that it very likely would lose even to a bluff (for instance, you were drawing to a 6-high straight and missed). Despite your hopeless hand, you call anyway. Your opponent mucks his hand, either immediately or after you refuse to show your hand first, and you take down the pot. And there you have it: The River-Call Bluff.

Has anyone ever seen this play even attempted?

Optional: show your 7-high hand that you just called with and send your opponent on tilt.


Mr. Wu said...

the first person to do that in a wsop tournament should get the move name after him...the 'wilson.'

Max said...

The problem with naming that particular strategy is that if it's executed sucessfully, no one will know it occured unless you show your loser hand, which would be giving a lot away. But a good strategy. I imagine that you'd have to play with the relevant palyer quite a bit to pin down his tendancy.


joe said...

Wouldn't that technically be a re-bluff, in the same manner as a redraw? Although I would be slightly embarrassed if I said that out loud, it just sounds goofy.

adspar said...

if you show the call-bluff after he mucks, the mucker will never muck again. He also might never try to bluff you again.