Let us start with an example from $2-$4 no limit Texas hold’em poker. You open raise from middle position with the 7c-5c and the big blind calls you. The flop is Jh-9h-2s and the big blind checks and you make a dubious c-bet with little showdown potential. Your opponent calls you and the turn card comes the 6c giving you an inside straight draw. Your opponent checks again and you fire again and are once again called.
In no limit Texas hold’em then it is easy to build an image pre-flop. Tight players have a tight image because they fold a lot more. Aggressive players have an aggressive image because they raise a lot more. In short then we always see the pre-flop part of the game but we don’t always see the showdown. This means that it isn’t as easy to construct a post flop image. Most aggressive players change to orthodox post flop in no limit Texas hold’em and this has become known as a LAG-TAG.
However let us say that our opponent calls our turn barrel and the river card comes and is the Ad. They check again and we shove all in using the ace as a scare card. They fold and show us Js-10s and we show them our bluff.
Many professional players never show bluffs, their views are that you should never allow your opponent to have free information in no limit Texas hold’em. This concept is a weak one and does not stand up to close scrutiny. Numerous examples can be taken from warfare to see how information is deliberately passed to the enemy for future potential gain.
The fact is that it doesn’t matter what information we give to our opponents as long as it is misinformation. If we are showing a bluff then many people argue that this makes it harder for us to bluff in the future…….but does it? The fact is that we cannot control our opponent’s thoughts in no limit Texas hold’em.
It is quite possible that when you show your opponents a bluff that they could tilt immediately. This increases the EV of any hands that we get in that period of time that are strong. If they see our bluff then many of your opponents will perceive that this is a one off and not call your next bluff or the next one after that in the belief that you are setting them up for a big sting.
Now let us see how you gain from showing your bluffs in no limit Texas hold’em. You raise with the 10c-10d and the same player in the big blind calls you. The flop comes 10s-9h-8h and your opponent checks. This is a great time to value bet even when heads up because of your bluffing image and the fact that the board texture allows for many weaker combinations to call your c-bet. The turn is the 8c and your opponent check-raises all in after you bet again. The cards are flipped over and they have the Kh-4h for a flush draw of which they are drawing dead. It was your bluffing image that created this out of line move from your opponent.
Carl Sampson is an online poker pro and poker ambassador for 888poker