When the pot is large and your opponent only calls a big bet or raise without much money behind there is a good chance he’s on a draw.
There are times, especially on the turn, where it becomes very obvious that your opponent must be on a draw. These situations normally occur when your opponent calls a big bet or raise without much money behind. Simple logic dictates that if he had a made hand that he would simply move all-in instead of just call. If you pay attention to spots like this you can pick up some great bluffing opportunities.
I was involved with a hand last week at the Commerce Casino’s $5-10NL game that was a great example of this concept. In retrospect I think I missed played the hand on earlier streets but was left with a river that I could not pass up in bluffing.
The hand started out with a solid pro in the cutoff raising over the top of a loose limper to $45. A very splashy, aggressive recreational player called in the small blind and I looked down to see 5♥ 7♥ in the big blind with a $1900 stack. The small blind had me covered. I thought in this spot, as long as I could get through the original raiser that I could profitably three bet the hand to take it down a fair amount of the time. And even if the small blind called it would not be the end of the world so I reraised to $185. The limper folded, and unfortunately for me both the opener and the small blind called.
The flop came out K♥ 6♦ 2♦ totally missing me. However, if I thought that the solid player in the cutoff may 4 bet AK with some frequency and does not call 3 bets with KQ, that king really shouldn’t hit his range. And even if the small blind called me I could set up multiple barrels on turn cards that gave me additional equity or take a free card in position. Instead, in the heat of the moment, however, I thought that the prudent play would be to make a delayed continuation bet to see what the solid player did on the flop. If he bet I was just going to be done with it. However, the pot got checked around.
The turn was the 8♥ giving me an open ended straight flush draw. The small blind led out for $375, and at this point I wanted to put maximum pressure on him. With about $1800 left in my stack I did not just want to move all-in as I thought that this would look too much like a draw. But I wanted to make it look like I was committing myself and protect against his draws. So I raised to $1200. The original raiser quickly folded behind but the small blind did something entirely unexpected. He thought for a long time, said “$1200”? And finally called!! At this point I just could not believe it. I mean I only had about $500 left in my stack and after his call the pot had over $3000 in it. If he thought I was on a draw and he had a king why would he not just move all-in right then and there? The only conclusion that I could make was that he must also be on a draw whether it was front door diamonds or back door hearts too, most likely with a pair or straight draw to go along it.
The river rolled off a meaningless T♣, and the SB quickly checked. Obviously with 7 high I had no showdown so with about $500 left in my stack I moved all-in to the $3000 pot. The math on this bluff, by the way is pretty easy to figure out. All you have to do is add your bet size to the pot and reduce the fraction. Here it would be $500/ $500+$3000 or 1/7. So as long as our bluff works 1 out of 7 times with this pot and bet sizing it is profitable. Anyway, the small blind cursed his luck, showed the nut flush diamond draw and quickly folded.
The interesting thing about situations like this is that sometimes you may even share the same draw as your opponent and might not want it to come.