Being unexploitable to poker bluffs

This poker guide will teach you how to be unexploitable to bluffs by using a mathemattical approach based on pot odds.

Value bets and bluffs

Usually the main idea behind betting is to do a valuebet or to gain folding equity over your opponent. Regardless of what your opponent may be holding there is a minimum amount for you to call your opponent’s bet. It all depends on betsizing , how the board looks like,  and the handranges your opponent may be holding.

Being unexploitable to bluffs

Let’s start with the general use of pot odds. If you have 2 against 1 pot odds you need to win 1/3=33% of the time to be able to call your opponent’s bet. Usually the question is if you have enough of a winning chance to call your opponent. But there is also another question to ask yourself and that is:  “how often should i call to make bluffs unprofitable for my opponent?”

Your opponent gave you 2 against 1 pot odds, but it also means that he got 1 against 1 odds himself. So if you fold more often then 50% of the time he will actually gain chips by placing this bet regardless of what he is holding.

Other odds to know about are:

A standard half size pot  continuation bet makes you call 66,7% of the time in order to make yourself unexploitable to bluffs.

General knowledge about each flop teaches us:

  • Most flops miss most hands. You only hit a pair or better 32% of the time.
  • In case you are holding a suited hand you have a 4 way flush on the flop approximately 11% of the time (backdoor flushdraw 41,7% of the time).
  • In case you are holding two connected cards your chances of getting an 8 out straightdraw is: 10,45% and the chance of hitting a straight on the flop is 1,3%

As you can see it will be hard to call with 50% of the hands since you aren’t always having a decent pair or a draw to back you up since you won’t always play suited connectors. This means that you actually have to call  on the flop at least some of the time with two  overcards (for instance AK). The question is in which situation will you do that?

You need to know your opponent’s handranges first. Has he been loose or tight and in which position was he preflop? If he was playing from the button, cuttoff or middle position he may be playing much more hands than from under the gun. If your opponent is a loose player from a late position you may assume that you can call his bets with any two overcards that are decent enough. For instance hands like AK, AQ.

The second thing to consider is the nature of the board and the likelyhood of your opponent actually hitting that board. For instance a flop like: 332 wil not have hit your opponent the majority of the time. So if he bets he must be holding any overpair for it to be a valuebet, allthough he may be doing the same with any decent highcard hand like AK. The rest of the time he will be bluffing. On such board you may make the call with hands like AK or AQ, simply because it is unlikely that your opponent has anything better then a highcard on this flop.

When your opponent keeps betting heavily it may be to much to keep calling on the turn, because he may  be betting the river as well and maybe he will be going all in on the river. In such case you need to fold because of reverse implied odds. The fact that you may have a very large amount to pay before you can see the showdown. If things aren’t cheap enough you should fold. In other cases you may win the hand on showdown and your opponent failed his bluf attempt on the flop.

If your opponent isn’t capable of making that call on the flop, you should definately place plenty of blufs yourself. It is a well known leak of players to fold way to often after the flop, even though they  may  be getting 3 to 1 odds.

If you want to know more about playing an unexploitable game of poker have a look at the following link:

How to be unexploitable



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