7 Scenarios Where You Need to Call Your Opponents’ Bluff

Woman Placing Chips on a Poker Table

Poker games come down to skill. Put a card sharp or shark on a table or in a room full of fish and watch their eyes light up wide with dollar signs.

Regardless of how lucky one player may be during a poker session, a more skilled opponent will always come ahead. However, that may take a more extended period than is allowed for your purposes.

So, taking full advantage of every opportunity will put you in a much better position to obtain short-term success. One of the finest places to catch your opponent slipping is when they bluff.

I believe most people to be honest and decent members of society; they aren’t accustomed to being deceitful. Yet, bluffing can be an integral part of poker.

You won’t get far without bluffing your way to a few pots in the poker room. Use these instances to put your opponents on thin ice.

Here are 7 scenarios where you need to call your opponents’ bluff.

Fish Out of Water

Recreational poker players are the wheels that keep the poker machine turning. When you think about it, poker is a lot like a pyramid scheme.

All of the money flows to the top, and the higher the level achieved, the bigger your slice of the pie.

Fish are the fuel that feeds the entire poker ecosystem because they’re prone to poor plays and countless missteps. One of the most common mistakes fish make is chasing a bad loss with an aggressive style.

So, you may see a fish take a significant hit on a hand then become hyper-aggressive on the next. Ideally, they’re hoping to push enough players off of the hand to steal the pot.

Whenever a fish bets you pre-flop, after the flop, on the river, and the turn with a flat bet, it’s time to take that money. Of course, you’ll still need a solid hand, but in their rage, they’ve likely made the mistake of chasing a hand with a small pair or paired the board early with a middle pair.

Don’t be afraid to take full advantage when a fish goes full tilt and begins bluffing.

If It Doesn’t Make Sense, It’s Not True

A long time ago, a friend told me that it’s not true if it doesn’t make sense. I’ve applied this novel principle throughout my life, and it’s served me well.

You should be mindful of the picture being painted by the cards at the poker table. That may be hard to do pre-flop, but the dynamic changes once the community cards are laid out.

What you’ll see a lot of the time when a player makes a bet and gets caught in a bluff is an effort to escape unscathed.

Typically, you’ll see an opponent check then call your small to average continuation bet at each round. This is great for you because it adds money to the pot and leaves you in the driver’s seat.

So, you will have a weak board say 7,8,3 off suit going to the turn. Not much there save for the potential straight draw.

Poker Room at Derby Lane

The river is almost always a low card of no value to the board, like 2. Still no action from your opponent, but they make the call.

Then after the board pairs with another 2, the other player will immediately make an insane raise. It’s common to see players go all-in here.

I’m not telling you that you’re not beat, but their play isn’t making any sense. They’re trying to sell you on the notion that they either slow-played their 7/8 or hit quads.

Regardless, they are trying to paint a picture that doesn’t add up. Because you were betting, you likely had the board beat, which means at least a pair of tens.

So, you beat them on the river with 7/8. Pay attention to your opponents and the cards to spot a bluff and win more pots.

Opponent Suddenly Acting Hard

The other players at the table will often give you subtle clues as to what they have. To combat this, players that are holding weak will go out of their way to exude confidence.

They may start talking up their hand or brashly declare how they can’t be beaten. That’s usually not the case.

Poker players need misdirection to prey on weaker players. So, a player acting strong is typically worried about a call, and the ones playing weak are praying for a call.

Don’t miss out on a pot because of false bravado; it’s the quiet ones you need to keep your eye on.

Remember that as a rule, most players will try to appear strong when they are weak and weak when they are strong. Most skilled players won’t fall for this, but there is plenty of fish to be taken.

Maintains Eye Contact

Eye contact can be a good tell at the poker table. As we just discussed, the player trying to talk a big game is often merely hoping you’ll go away already.

In keeping with that sense of fearlessness, they may stare you right in the eyes to prove that they aren’t bluffing. Fortunately, we know that this is a tell and you shouldn’t be too worried.

However, some of the elite players will mix signals on you. These players will go over the top trying to put up a double fake bravado in which they actually have the nuts.

Venetian Las Vegas Poker Room

Still, you probably don’t have to worry much about this in your weekend $1/$2 games.

Keep in mind that most amateur players will try to act strong when weak and vice versa. Not getting scared away from your decent hands will add up to a lot more wins for you.

The players who are staring off into space or avoiding looking in your direction are likely waiting for you to make the call. Don’t get beat up by the quiet guys.

Hyper Aggressive Play

Hyper aggressive play is more common in online poker rooms than it is in the casino. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to track aggressiveness in live games.

Online players tend to play more aggressively. They surmise that there are more fish in the online poker rooms, so there are more opportunities to make a quick buck.

They also figure that playing hyper-aggressive will prevent the table from bullying them out of pots. Both are true to a certain extent, but not the best course.

Players aren’t going to get enough good hands to bet or raise post-flop than they are to merely call. If a player is regularly betting more than they check at any point after the flop, they’ve got to be bluffing a decent percentage of the time.

Don’t get fooled by the overly aggressive player in online or live games. They are merely trying to steal enough pots to offset their weak poker skills.

Proceed with caution against these players. It’s not that they’re bluffing 100% of the time; they simply have a much more comprehensive range that they’ll play.

The Quick Draw

The quick draw is a favorite tool of novice and recreational online players. This scenario will commonly play out with the opponent limping into the flop and then immediately raising after the flop.

Skilled players will take their time and decide how to get the most cash out of you. Even when they hit a nut flush on the flop, they’ll take their time.

Poker Hand on Table

Most recreational players will even take some additional time to evaluate their hands. You’re more likely to face this style of bluffing in online poker games, but it’ll also happen in the casinos.

Again, strong is weak, and weak is strong. Make your adjustments accordingly to get the most from your poker sessions.

7 – Check Raise a Flop with Pairs

Of all the different types of bluffs you’ll face in poker, nothing gets my heat up like a check-raise when the flop has a pair.

It’s actually a dangerous scenario because your opponent may have actually flopped triplets. However, any good poker player would at least make a bet to try to get you off the hand.

Basically, nobody is slow playing trips. Unless they are a complete noob or knob, I suppose either or both.

Let’s assume that the player check-raises after a 6/6/9 flop. They are trying to represent sixes, but why would the call pre-flop with a 6?

Even if they have something like an ace or king, it doesn’t make sense that they’d still be in at this point. One area to watch out for this is when you’re playing head to head in a tournament.

The range of hands widens significantly in heads-up play, and triplets are a stellar hand in this situation.

Our Final Thoughts on These Situations

There are few more satisfying situations in the game of poker than catching a bully in a bluff. Stop losing those pots that help sustain the bankroll and start making higher profits at the poker table.

Take full advantage of these 7 scenarios where you need to call your opponents’ bluff. You’ll soon find that the more aggressive players will fade away, leaving you to have your way with the rest of the table.