When SHOULD You BLUFF?

By Jonathan LittleFriday Jan 21, 2022

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GGPoker Super Millions Final Table

At most final tables, you will find a clear chip leader leading the pack and often influencing a lot of the action at the table. However, every now and then the stacks will be evenly matched, forcing the remaining players to outplay each other if they hope to take down the top prize. At this GGPoker Super Millions Final Table, three players remained with almost identical stacks, putting the pressure on to make a move.

The Game: GGPoker Super Millions
Blinds: 80,000/160,000
Stack Sizes: 53 Big Blinds Effective

When SHOULD You BLUFF? GG Poker Final Table

Something’s Gotta Give

All holding between 8.3 and 8.7 million chips respectively, Joshua McCully as well as Nenad “O O L” Djukic and Ognyan “fizoka” Dimov were even stacked and ready to make some moves to achieve GGPoker glory. On the button holding K♠-Q Djukic raised it to 352,000, drawing a three-bet from Dimov who made it 1,401,960 holding J-10. Assessing Dimov’s three-bet, while J-10 can be used to reraise, ace-x hands that block more premium hands would be more preferable to use for three-bets. After a fold from McCully, Djukic was left to decide what to do with their K♠-Q. It may certainly feel dicey calling with K♠-Q, however it really is the only viable option when facing opponents three-betting with a strategically wide range. A four-bet would have been extremely vulnerable as Djukic’s K♠-Q would not have been strong enough to challenge A-K hands or high pocket pairs. When neither folding or raising are profitable options, all you can really do is call and hope for a favorable flop.

A Flop Full Of Potential

The Pot: 3,023,920
The Board: J-10♠-2♠
Effective Stack: 47 Big Blinds

While Dimov would nail a strong two pair on the flop, they would still be vulnerable to Djukic’s open-ended straight draw. With a stellar hand, Dimov wanted to bet on this board, but what was the ideal sizing? With top two pair, Dimov should have pondered what strategy would allow all of his chips to find the pot by the river. Betting too big on the flop often results in opponents being pushed out of hands even though they can still be squeezed for equity. Betting small incentivizes opponents to call with hands you beat, and by keeping them in the hand you get two more streets to extract even more value. Betting 846,698, Dimov drew a call from Djukic who looked to hit a straight on the turn.

Game Over

The Pot: 4,717,316
The Board: J-10♠-2♠-J♣
Effective Stack: 41 Big Blinds

It is likely Djukic did not look at the J♣ on the turn favorably, but even so, they had no idea just how crushed they were with Dimov’s completed full house. Much like the flop, Dimov was in a spot where they had to figure out what strategy would induce their opponent into investing chips. In such spots, there are two potential strategies: checking to induce bets that would be called, or betting small to continue extracting as much value as possible. If Dimov were to have checked and be bet into, check-raising all-in would have been overly aggressive as it would have forced Djukic to fold out all potential bluffs. Keeping Djukic in the hand provides another street for value and allows another opportunity to bluff, especially if the river card is favorable. Dimov elected to check, leaving Djukic with their own decision.

While we have the benefit of knowing what their opponent had, Djukic did not, requiring them to consider the best course of action for having a shot at winning the hand. Considering this as a bluffing opportunity, Djukic should have been cautious as Dimov could have been checking to protect the jacks in their checking range (which was the case). A large bet would have only been called by better hands, at this point Djukic only had a pair of jacks with a king kicker, leaving them extremely vulnerable. Returning the check would essentially be giving up on the hand, making a small bet on this turn allows Djukic to not only represent a jack when their opponent does not have it but also sets up a potential bluff opportunity on the river. Djukic would make a quality play betting small for 1,211,329, drawing an ominous call from Dimov.

A Bluffable River?

The Pot: 7,139,974
The Board: J-10♠-2♠-J♣-6♠
Effective Stack: 33 Big Blinds

The 6♠ on the river provided a bluffable card for Djukic, who was still blissfully unaware of Dimov’s jacks-over-tens. Checked to by Dimov, Djukic had to decide whether or not to attempt the bluff representing a flush. Considering Djukic’s range, there are a lot of busted draws, jacks, and more importantly flushes. Djukic had a very bluff heavy range, making this spot great for potential over-bluffing as opponents must consider the Independent Chip Model (ICM) implications. Even though they were dead to rights, Djukic’s only option was going for the bluff, after putting all of their chips in the middle they were likely dismayed when Dimov snap called revealing the full house.

Even though they lost the hand, Djukic played this spot to the best of his ability and still took home a substantial prize for third place. You must not get discouraged when you make good, strong plays that ultimately get beat, it is all a part of the game! Kudos to Ognyan Dimov for a fantastic slow play and for taking down this Super Millions event.

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About The Author

Jonathan Little

Two-time WPT Champion Jonathan Little is a powerhouse in the global poker community. He's authored several bestselling strategy poker books, and accumulated over $7 million in live tournament cashes in the last 15 years. Crowned 2019 Poker Personality of the Year at the Global Poker Awards, the American pro is constantly rolling out a stream of exclusive articles, videos, and webinars here on PokerCoaching.com.

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