Monday, December 07, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concepts 46-47

From No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 46: Don't just think about what you put your opponents on. Think about what they put you on also.

Yeah, this is what I'm always talking about. You need to think about what your range is and what your opponent's range is. That is the basis of game theory.

Concept No. 47: If it's clear your opponent has a hand at least worth a call, but he raises instead, it's almost never a bluff.

I think this is an overstatement to the extent that it is misleading. Also, it is very difficult to tell when your opponent has a hand "at least worth a call." However, this does occasionally arise if your opponent played in a way that was probably a made hand but if not, must have been a draw. If the draw comes in, you might want to bet to get value from his previously-made hands, but you'll have to fold if he raises. I would argue that your opponent could still be bluffing in this situation, but it's unlikely enough that you should usually still fold.

Suppose that you identified a situation where your opponent certainly had a hand that was at least worth a call, and he has raised you. Sklansky and Miller say it is almost never a bluff. However, it could still be a bluff if your opponent is overly aggressive. He would likely be making a mistake, but mistakes like this are not that rare. Moreover, if he knows you will fold to this bluff (which S+M are recommending to you), it means his bluff was actually the correct play after all.

This last idea is a bit convoluted, but I have used this against my more astute opponents. For example, I played a hand that went something like this: suppose you have AsJh and the board comes Jd 5s 4s. There is a lot of action on the flop. The turn is the Ace of clubs and you get check-raised. I think you are probably behind here, but you might still want to call because you might be ahead, and you do have four outs against a small set. If the river is a spade and your opponent bets, you can raise as a bluff. Your opponent will figure you would only do this with a flush, and fold his set. He might even fold a small flush or straight.


Craig Berger said...

I don't understand concept 47. If you have a good idea what your opponent has, then you have an idea whether or not he is bluffing, right? I mean, why not just say, "if your opponent has a hand that is worth a raise, he is not bluffing?"

Keith said...

You don't necessarily need to have a good idea what your opponent has in order to have a good idea of what he does NOT have. As long as you're pretty sure he does not have a weak hand, this concept can apply.

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