888poker: How To Know If You Have A Good Bluff Catcher

888poker: How To Know If You Have A Good Bluff Catcher

Lucia Navarro is the latest 888poker pro to be in the hot seat for the platform's Made to Learn series.

In the latest instalment, Navarro reveals five top tips on knowing when to correctly hero call when you think your opponent is bluffing.

Check Your Odds

In poker, you don't have to be right every time you make a call. If you run the same hand a thousand times and you win it more than you lose it, it's the right call.

You should ask yourself what percentage of the time your opponent has the hand they are representing, and what percentage of the time is it a bluff? Normally, we don't have to win as much as we think for the risk-to-reward ratio of a bluff catcher to be profitable.

Against a pot-sized bet, we need to win at least one out of three times to be profitable. When facing a half-pot bet, we only need to win at least one in four.

Based on your actions and your history with your opponent, ask yourself if you think they're bluffing enough in this spot to make the right call. If the answer is yes, then go for it.

Review the Action

A good bluff needs to make sense all the way through. Are you finding some confusion in the story that your opponent is telling you? Does their bet-sizing make sense with the way they've been playing the hand in the other streets?

For example, let's say you have called a cutoff open with J9 in the big blind and the J96 flush-draw checks through to a turn like the 2. You fire out a bet and get called, which brings in a river like the 3. If they raise your river pot-sized bet when the flush completes, it could be considered a bit suspicious as your opponent is repping rare hands like the nut-flush. You would think your opponent would have made a continuation bet on the flop, so for this reason, your opponent is most likely bluffing, and it's up to you to catch him.

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Consider the Strength of Your Hand

Think of all the different hands you would have played this way in this situation. If you make a rank of all the hands you would reach the river with, and you're holding the top of your range, you should be more inclined to make the hero call.

Your opponent will be trying to put you on a range of hands, and they will probably assume that you have a weaker hand than what you actally have.

Depending on the size of your opponent's bet, you will have to call with the best of your range, even if it's just a bluff catcher.

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Pay Attention to Blockers

Blockers are cards that make it less likely that your opponent has a hand that is at the top of their range.

If we hold the A on a board like KJ864, they can't have the nut flush as you hold the ace of spades. If they're playing like they do have the ace-high flush, then alarm bells should start ringing.

If we are blocking our opponent's strongest hands, we should be making more bluff-catching calls.

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Think About Relative Strength

Your bluff catcher doesn't need to be a strong hand, but it doesn't need to beat the hands that your opponent might be bluffing with.

Think carefully about how they played on the earlier streets and which hands they might have that made it all the way to the river. Maybe they missed their flush draw, and you could make a good read and call with king-high. But if they were on the nut-flush draw, they would still beat you.

Knowing that your opponent is bluffing is only half the battle. Being able to beat them at showdown is the other half.

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