If you have been playing No Limit Holdem for at least a few years by now you should have noticed that bad players often play backwards. When they have strong hands they often will feign weakness and when they are weak or have medium strength holdings they will sometimes bet to “protect” against over cards. We can really use this knowledge to our advantage especially if we are the preflop raiser.
Let us review a hand that I played at the Commerce Casino a few weeks ago. One bad, recreational player limped in Mp2, I raised K♥ Q♥ on the button to $45 and the big blind and the limper called. The flop came out 9♥ 2♠ 4♣. The big blind checked and now the Mp2 player lead out for $50. If we know that this bad player very rarely would ever have a set what is his most likely holding? It seemed to me that at most he could have a nine and he easily could be betting with a hand like A4 to “find out where he is at”. Well, I let him know where he was at and raised it to $200. Both my opponents folded.
This hand is a very good example of a spot where bluff raising the flop against a lead out that probably is not strong is extremely profitable. Against good opponents that can put pressure on you leading out to evaluate the strength of your hand is rarely a good play. In fact you can even get blown off of a hand as good as KJ on a jack high board if you are not willing to hold on.
The beauty of making this bluff raise play on ragged boards, however, is that top pair will often change by the river and the relative strength of your opponents hand in comparison to the board will go way down.