How to handle chronic bluffers in limit hold'em
It is folded to you in six max - limit hold’em and you raise on the button with Jc-10d. You have good position and a raise takes the initiative in the hand and you hope to get some dead money in the pot if the small blind folds. On your lucky days then the big blind folds as well and you pick up 1.5bb without seeing a flop or even paying rake. However this particular opponent three bets you pre-flop from the big blind and you call because of the attractive combination of pot odds, hand strength and position.
The flop comes Q-Q-4 and your opponent bets out. You are in a tough spot and you could well be drawing dead and so you fold. The very next orbit and you raise As-4h on the button and get three bet again by the same player……you call and they lead out on a Q-J-5 board and you fold again.
Driving the action
To solve this puzzle (because this is what it is) then you have to understand what the actions by both you and your opponents are likely to mean. Your opponent knows that when you raise pre-fop from the button as the opener that you are unlikely to have a powerful hand…….it is simple combinatorics. So he is trying to wrestle the initiative and to counter your simple and obvious strategy of raising from position by three betting you and then taking the lead on the flop.
In no limit hold’em then the flop lead isn’t as necessary because the bigger bets mean that a pre-flop three bet will often be enough to take the pot down. So you have to call with your hand but when it becomes apparent what your opponent is doing then you need to readjust. So what exactly does this mean? Well it means that your opponents three bet now becomes almost as meaningless as your additional opening raise.
Roughly translated then this means that they are three betting you with the same wide range as what you may have been raising with (or even wider). So even the flop c-bet is now very suspect and you have to treat it as such! You need to remember why your opponent is doing what he is doing…….if you said it is because he is aggressive then that is the wrong answer. They are doing this because your strategy is obvious and so you need to begin the process of balancing your ranges. However your opponent is now the one with the obvious strategy because they are simply three betting pre-flop and c-betting the flop and are probably doing so with a very high percentage of their total range.