I have written several columns in the past in Card Player about the profitability of stealing limped pots through betting or raising. A lot of players really do keep to the old adage “don’t go broke in a limped pot” and simply will not put in a lot of money if the pot is unraised preflop with only one pair postflop. You can take advantage of this situation by bluffing good barrel over cards.
That is why your own hand strength is almost irrelevant if you are running one of these limped pot bluffs. It does not matter if you have bottom pair, a gutshot or total air most of the reason why you are playing a bloated limp pot is to bluff your opponent off of his holding by using scare cards.
Let us take a look a look at a hand that I played at the WSOP this summer. This was the one and only no limit cash session that I played at the Rio this year as usually I spend my time playing the $75-$150 Omaha Hi-Low game. This was a good, passive $5-$10 table and I had had a winning image. Two people limped in front of me and I decided to over limp with J♥ 9♥ on the button. The two blinds checked and the flop came out T♥ 6♣ 2♦. All of the players checked to me and I thought that this was a great board to stab at the pot. Not only was it unlikely that anyone had a strong hand but I also had some backdoor flush and straight draw equity. I bet out $30 into $40 and only the big blind called. Now it is possible that the blind could have had a 6 and is calling me thinking I am stealing but a lot of players also check weak top pairs in limped pots out of the blinds. So as long as he was not slow playing a set I thought that it was going to be really hard for him to hold on to just a ten in a bloated pot.
The turn was a K♣ giving me a gutshot straight draw. He checked and I fired ¾ pot. He took a little time and finally folded a ten ace up. Now the fact that I picked up a gutshot was irrelevant. I was entirely playing the hand based upon what I thought my opponent had not what I actually held. If the turn was a 6 or a ten those cards would be incredibly bad bluff cards for me as I would not expect him to fold top pair or if he now ran into trips.
Being a great No Limit player is all about putting your opponent on a range, no matter the situation and acting accordingly—whether it is bluffing or correctly sizing a value bet.