Jonathan Little: “Sometimes It’s Right to Bluff It Off”

Jonathan Little

When is it appropriate to bluff off your entire stack? Is it a good idea to bluff when there are three even stacks on the final table!? In this video I go through one of the trickier poker fundamentals and run you through an example from the $10,000 buy-in GG Poker Super MILLION$ final table!

Just three players remained with the blinds at 80,000/160,000/20,000 and surprisingly the triumvirate was all pretty equally stacked, which is something you don’t often see three-handed at a final table. “OOL” (8,978,374) was first to act on the button and raised to 352,000 holding the {q-Diamonds}{k spades}.

“fizoka” (8,453,770) then three-bet to 1,401,960 from the small blind holding the {j Diamonds}{10-Diamonds} other Joshua McCully (8,607,856) folded the {9-Diamonds}{q spades} from the big. “OOL” has no real option but to call. They don’t want to four-bet, say to 3.3 million, as if they get shoved on, well now we’re getting 2:1 pot odds to call off in a spot when we’re probably going to win 38-40 % of the time, which isn’t great.

“This is definitely a spot to continuation-bet and “fizoka” should be focused on finding a way to get his entire stack in by the river.”

The only options in my mind are to call, fold, or shove. I think shoving is a little too optimistic because when you get called you’re going to be in terrible shape, and folding seems weak, so a call is probably best. That’s just what “OOL” did to see a {10-Spades}{j Hearts}{2-Spades} flop

“fizoka” flopped top two pair and continued for 846,698. This is definitely a spot to continuation bet and “fizoka” should be focused on finding a way to get his entire stack in by the river. It’s important not to bet too big on the flop because if you do you’re going to make your opponent fold out a bunch of their junkier hands they might stick around with if you bet smaller.

“OOL” flopped an open-ended straight draw and it’s an easy call. If they were to raise and get shoved on they’d be in bad shape, even with two overcards. There are just too many good hands within your opponent’s three-betting range that would never fold. This is a spot where I think you just call, take your good pot odds, and hope to spike your straight on the turn.

Indeed, “OOL” called but the {j clubs} turn was no help. On the contrary, it gave “fizoka” a full house. What should they do in this spot?

What would you do with them {j Diamonds}{10-Diamonds} on the turn?

Your Stack (SB): 6,205,112
Their Stack (BTN): 6,729,716
Pots: 4,717,316

  • check/call
  • Check/raise all in
  • Bet 1,000,000 (small)
  • Bet 3,000,000 (medium)
  • Bet 6,205,112 (all in)
Jonathan Little

I think the best viable options here are to either check looking to check-call or to bet small, like a million. I don’t like check-raising all in as “OOL” is going to fold all their bluffs. Likewise, if you bet big “OOL” is going to fold a lot of their nonsense. You really want to keep them in with all their garbage.

“fizoka” did end up checking and this is where I think “OOL” has a decision to make. Either they should be small on the turn and jam the river or they should give up on the hand. I think a small bet is fine as you’ll get called by a lot of hands – like {k-}{q-}, {9-}{9-}, {10-}{9-}etc.—that would then fold to a jam on the river.

On the flip side, if you jam the turn you’ll get hands like {a-}{k-} other {a-}{q-} to fold, but you’re getting called every time by all the big pocket pairs {j-}{x-}and {10-}{10-}. “OOL” went with a small bet making it 1,211,387 and “fizoka” just had to call as he wanted to keep his opponent in the pot.

the {6-Spades} river was an interesting card as it brought in the flush draw, which would go for it on the river. If I was in the shoes of “OOL”, I would be bluffing a lot here. I’d be going for it on the river after “fizoka” checked. Sometimes it’s right to bluff it off, and this is such a spot.

“OOL” did end up jamming and “fizoka” called off for 4,993,783. It didn’t work out for “OOL”, but I like the play. A lot of people might second guess after the fact, but in reality, if you make a good, strong play that just doesn’t work out, then there’s not much else you can do.

For more on this hand check out my breakdown in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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