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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

May 22, 2007

Running a Bluff

by Luckbox

Imagine spending an entire live session in which your biggest Ace is AQs and your biggest pair is pocket 8s. In each case, I found the hand in a blind.

Not exactly the recipe for a big session... unless your name is G-Rob. And, well, mine isn't. This may be a newsflash to some of you, but when I'm playing cash games, I actually prefer to have the best hand and then have it hold up. I save the Luckboxing for tournaments.

So sitting at that table at the New Orleans Harrah's, I had to reach into my bad of tricks for something with which I'm a little uncomfortable. The bluff.

**************

"You want me to throw this away?" I asked, as incredulously as I could. We were cleaning out my junk storage room and things I've carried with me from L-town to G-Vegas to Knox-Vegas to Leezy-anna were being put into a trash pile.

In this particular case, I was holding a sleek Sporting News thermos that I had never used.

"But what if I need it?" I continued, "It's actually pretty nice."

Lady Luck took it out of my hands and looked at it, "What-ever," she said, with her trademark giggle and she threw it in the trash box.

I didn't want to keep it. I didn't need it. I was running a small stakes bluff just to see how she reacted. I got the information I needed.

***************

He seemed like a calling station. And he had been talking about how this was his last hand for the last 45 minutes. But since I'd been playing with him for the last couple hours, I knew both were an act. He was only a calling station until he sensed weakness, then he pounced.

I'm sitting in the big blind and the action is folded all the way around to him in the small blind. He reminded me of Ed McMahon, without the deep voice. I was about to suggest a chop, but he threw his $5 chip in the middle.

"Fine," I thought, and I rapped the table before peeking at my hand. Pocket 8s. My biggest pocket pair of the session.

The flop came down 753, two spades. I didn't have a spade, but there was no doubt my hand was best.

"I think that hit me good," he said, throwing $20 into the $10 pot. He was quite the talker.

"I think it hit me better," I said, raising to $40. I wasn't shocked when he called. He'd often called raises with a plan to move at the pot later in the hand.

The turn was a Jack. Obviously, I hated seeing an overcard, but I had to hope it missed him.

"Sixty," he said, confidently. He practically slammed the chips on the table. I think I saw a copy of Mike Caro's Book of Tells fall out of his sleeve.

"I call," I said, just as quickly. I considered raising there and winning the pot. I was fairly confident he didn't have a hand, but I could have been wrong. I also thought the quick call might allow me to feign a draw in case a scare card comes on the river.

The river was the deuce of spades. That opened up all kinds of craziness. Three spades and another straight possibility. If he bet, I was ready to bluff. I'm not sure I had effectively set it up, but the way my session was going, I wanted this pot.

Thankfully, he checked. Betting would have been stupid because I was likely only going to get called by a better hand. I tabled my snowmen and he mucked.

**************

"Wow," I said. "You really know how to rip a guy's heart out," I told her, acting as wounded as possible. She knew it was an act and laughed. But I filed this away. It would take a different tact to keep something I really wanted.

It didn't take long for her to come across a couple of old sports books of mine that were gathering dust in boxes. She started moving those toward the trash pile.

"Wait, wait, wait," I said, more seriousness in my tone this time. "I've been holding on to those until I had a place to show them off. They're actually great coffee table books for the right room."

That was my first bullet.

"So where is that?" She asked. She had a point, dammit.

"Well... you're decorating the guest room. What about our second living area? It certainly needs some character."

Bullet number two. That turn card didn't scare me.

"Hmmm..." she said, clearly considering it. I had my opening and I wasn't going to miss it.

"Besides, I've got my chess sets and my poker stuff. We could come up with a cool sports and game room," I thought I overplayed my hand. There was a moments hesitation from her. I held nothing and I thought she was calling for sure.

"Okay." She folded. Ship it!

**************

It was my last hand of the night. Lady Luck was on her way over to pick me up. I didn't mind, the session had been incredibly slow. I can hardly remember being so card dead. I was sitting a little up, but wanted more. When I looked down at A3s from early position, I figured the best I could hope for was a flush. I limped from the SB.

Three more players limped before a woman on the button raised to $25. She looked as though she likely played on the LPGA tour at one time (and I'm not talking about Natalie Gulbis here, think late 80s LPGA). She raised on the button almost every time and she followed up every one of her raises with a continuation bet. I immediately decided a bluff might be in order.

The BB and SB folded, but I called, as did the other three limpers. There was already $125 in the pot. The flop came down 963 rainbow. I was first to act.

I fired out $75. I frankly can't remember the last time I made a bet like that with bottom pair and 5 players in the pot. I wasn't sure I had the best hand, but I was willing to represent it. I'm not a skilled bluffer, so I knew there was a risk.

Everyone folded except for Nancy Lopez. She hesitated, practically staring me down, before calling. I immediately put her on over cards. I think she had a plan that included either catching her overcard on the turn or bluffing if I checked the turn.

The dealer pulled off a deuce. I looked at the board, looked up at her, looked down at my stack and said, "$165." To be honest, I didn't want a call. There was a chance, a good chance, that I was ahead. On the other hand, she could have easily been holding a 6 or a 9... or even pocket 7s or 8s. This may have been a case of bluffing with the best hand, but even then, I was out of my element.

She thought for what felt like an enternity. My phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it. At the time, I though Lady Luck was calling to say she was waiting out front, but it was actually the alarm I had set to remind to get up. I wanted to seem calm, but not unnaturally sure of myself.

She threw her cards into the muck. The dealer pushed the chips my way and I talbed my bottom pair.

"I think that was good," I said. A couple players at my end of the table laughed. I'm not sure they thought it was. I don't normally show my hands, but I was leaving anyway. It felt good... even if it wasn't really a bluff. It helped me finish up a couple hundred bucks. I'll take it.

**************

My session in the junk storage room didn't finish nearly as well. I finished down. Waaaaaay down. I was left with my baseball card collection and one and a half small boxes. There was so much thrown away that we travelled to two different dumpsters to get rid of it.

Lady Luck 1, The Luckbox 0.

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