So Your Bluff Didn’t Work – Is It Time To Back Down?

So your bluff didn’t work, and now you are faced with an all-in check raise from a rather tight player. You know what you have to do. Even though it’s against your natural instinct to back down, sometimes there is just no other option.  Let’s say you’re in a hand with two big cards and you raised the pot from late position. The big blind calls you and the both of you see a ragged flop.  Normally, he’s going to check to you, the aggressor in a hand.

If your opposer does, this is a pretty standard play for you to make a continuation bet.  Usually this means 1/2 to 3/4 of the pot, and frequently the play will end right there.  But what if it doesn’t?  Sometimes your antagonist will call your continuation bet.  He is offering you position with his call, however on a ragged low card flop, you have to constantly keep in mind these are precisely the hands your opponent may have called you with.  Of course you don’t know that, as he might’ve called you with an ace king and have your king and queen dominated.

The point is he did call you.  Now, you can expect a few things from this call such as, he does have a really good hand whether that be from help from the flop or him slow playing you, it really doesn’t matter. He may also think you are a timid enough opposer, to be planning a bet or check raise on the turn or river. He could merely be playing on the supposition that this flop completely missed your high cards, and you cannot afford to make this pot grow with an ace high hand. He may also just be playing with a small pair, or draw.

Now, depending on your opponent’s profile, you may want to three bet him if he raises you, but that usually means a really big pot in a very marginal situation.  This is something that you truly must consider as to be a pricy situation long term. Simply put, if you don’t have the balls or the cards to bet out on the turn or river, then you may likely be resigned to saying to yourself, “that’s all I’m going to put into this hand, I’ll have to check it down or fold”.

Giving up on a hand, or folding to someone who has turned the aggression around on you is one of the hardest plays to make in terms of managing your own failings. This is simply because we are in conflict with a human tendency to protect oneself and fight for survival.  Folding a hand, is more closely associated to feeling like a coward, not a scrapper.

In that sense, getting out of a hand rarely leaves you with a good feeling, but for competitors who realize that it is simply a calculated move and really has nothing to do with your personality or character, will be able to walk away unharmed – at least emotionally.  The strong, experienced players will be able to patiently hold for a better chance.  Denser players, on the other hand may have a feelings of anger about having to fold, and may be running towards tilt after just a single hand.

Late position aggression is standard, folding to even more aggression is more often than not, the sign of an excellent and winning player, not a coward.

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