Turning a weak hand into a bluff

woman playing texas hold'em

Sometimes, there are opportunities in cash games to turn weak hands into bluffs pre-flop. Let us look at a situation here to show you what I mean. It has been folded around to the hijack player that raises to 3bb and you have the Jc-6c in the cut-off seat. As a rule, the best play here is to simply fold but 3/betting every now and again is not a bad play. This play often works better than 3/betting with potentially dominated hands like A-Jo for example. If you are 4/bet in this situation then you have an easy fold.

Also you are better off making this play if certain conditions are present. Firstly, having a little potential in your hand is no bad thing and even though our hand has little by way of high card strength or connectedness, it does have flush potential which is something. Also, if your opponents have very little at all then you will pick up the pot without a fight a lot of the time. If you are going to play such a weak holding though then certain things have to be present for the play to work.

Firstly, you cannot be making these plays all the time because if you do then you simply have a very wide range from position and your opponents will adjust to that. These plays work better when three conditions are met. That your opponents to your left are not very aggressive and do not 4/bet against 3/bets! That your opponents’ range must be relatively wide otherwise your hand’s value will fall alarmingly. And that you have been playing relatively tightly from position. Your opponents will just fold most of their range if they perceive your 3/betting range to be narrow.

So this puts us into a position where your range when you 3/bet like this is split between very strong hands that have an equity advantage against your opponents range and some weak hands that have poor hand equity. What you are essentially doing here is turning a weak hand into a bluff either pre-flop or on the flop. If your 3/bet gets called and you end up making a flush then you could end up stacking a player who has something relatively strong and simply cannot lay it down post flop.

Many players after getting 3/bet will just shut down and play fit or fold post flop allowing you to use your superior position to dictate play. While good players will not do this, bad to moderate players will do it in far greater frequency. So if you 3/bet with a hand like J-6s and K-Qs calls then this is a good result if they play fit or fold. On boards like A-9-5 rainbow then you will have a lot of fold equity because your perceived range will include many hands with an ace in them. The bottom line is though that it isn’t poor strategy to polarise your range in this way.

So this puts us into a position where your range when you 3/bet like this is split between very strong hands that have an equity advantage against your opponents’ range and some weak hands that have poor hand equity. What you are essentially doing here is turning a weak hand into a bluff either pre-flop or on the flop. If your 3/bet gets called and you end up making a flush then you could end up stacking a player who has something relatively strong and simply cannot lay it down post-flop.

Many players after getting 3/bet will just shut down and play fit or fold post-flop allowing you to use your superior position to dictate play. While good players will not do this, bad to moderate players will do it in far greater frequency. So if you 3/bet with a hand like J-6s and K-Qs calls then this is a good result if they play fit or fold. On boards like A-9-5 rainbow, you will have a lot of fold equity because your perceived range will include many hands with an ace in them. The bottom line is though that it isn’t poor strategy to polarise your range in this way.

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