I trust my instincts when I’m deciding whether or not a player is bluffing. I hone these instincts by practicing reading my opponents when I’m out of the hand being played, to try to get a better read on them when I need it later. If someone has raised in front of me and I feel that he is weak, I usually fold anyway. But at the end of the hand, I’ll watch to see if he exposes his hole cards, so I can confirm that he was weak or see that I was wrong. If I was right, then I will wait for him to do it again. Anyone who makes one weak raise can be expected to make more than one.
Phil’s Strategy: Re-raise with Nothing
I like to use an example from the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2001. I had been watching Daniel Negreanu very closely during the championship on day three. In this particular hand, Daniel opened the pot for $10,000. I knew he had nothing, and when it was my turn to act I made it $30,000 to go with 10♦–2♦ (bluffing). Now, John “World” Hennigan decided to move all-in for $30,100, and Daniel quickly folded his hand. I called $100 more, but I would have called another $10,000 because of the size of the pot (I had about $210,000 in front of me at the time). After all, I already had $30,000 in the pot plus John’s $30,100 and Daniel’s $10,000. Much to my embarrassment, the tournament director required us to flip our cards face up before the flop. (more…)