Home  |  Poker Roll  |  Poker Tweeter  |  FlopZoom  |  FlopZoom Lite  |  News  |  Blog
FlopZoom Advanced Tutorials

Bluffing is an essential part of any poker game. Without bluffing, hold'em would be almost like pai-gow. (Not that pai-gow is necessarily bad, but you can actually win with the worst hand in poker.) On the other hand, if a villain is way out of line compared to the rest of a table you're playing, you can adjust your playing style against that player if you get into a good situation. FlopZoom tracks all players' bluffs at all times.

The bluffs chart is the second of the four "player style" charts, along with the plays, bets, and calls charts. To keep things simple, FlopZoom only counts stone-cold bluffs. When you don't even have a pair. If we didn't narrow things down like that, we'd have to include bluffs with made hands, which is an entirely different category. Like raising with the nut flush when the board shows 3 of a kind, or betting out with broadway when the board shows a four-flush. No, for now anyway, we'll only show you bets with 100% nothing as being bluffs.


The Bluff Types
Having said that, there are still many different ways you can bluff with total air:

Bluff TypeSpecific Meaning
One streetBet or raised on any single street
Two streetBet or raised on any two consecutive streets
Three+ streetBet or raised on three or more consecutive streets
Bet all-inOpen-bet all-in on any street
Raised all-inRaised all-in on any street
Squeeze playRaised after a player bet and another called
Coordinated boardBet or raised when the board showed a straight or flush draw
Rag boardBet or raised when the board showed no straight or flush draw
Blind defensesRaised preflop with nothing in one of the blinds
Blind stealsRaised preflop from late position when limped to

Special Cases
But why is the squeeze play in the bluffs chart and not in the plays chart? And why does the blind steal appear on both the plays and the bluffs charts? One thing at a time. First let's review the specifics of the squeeze play.

The squeeze play requires a specific series of actions: player A raises, player B calls, and player C puts the squeeze play on by raising big. This forces player A to really have a hand: he might not be able to beat a caller and a raiser with a weak holding. If player A is contemplating calling, he has to remember that player B is still behind him and could raise even more. If player A folds, the heat is on player B.

Player B just flat-called player A's original raise. So from player C's perspective, player B is unlikely to have a big hand. If the action is preflop (and most squeeze plays do seem to occur preflop) player B can only comfortably call player C's big re-raise with a big pair. And, of course, a lot depends on player C's image, the players' relative stack sizes, their M values, and the history of the session as well.

So, player C has put both players A and B into a bad situation unless they've got a big pair preflop or a made hand postflop. What does this have to do with bluffing? Well, if player C has aces and runs the squeeze play, you could argue that it's not a squeeze play at all and it's an attempt at building a big pot for value. It wouldn't be a play. It would be a value bet. So, in the interests of simplicity again, we've decided that it shouldn't be called a "squeeze play" in FlopZoom unless the re-raiser (player C in this example) has nothing. Hence the squeeze play appears on the bluffs chart and not the plays chart.

Ah, but aren't plays simple betting patterns? Didn't we say that the cards don't matter when we detect plays? Sure we did. But bluffs are a special type of play and we decided to give them their own chart. Bluffing is such an important part of poker, for many reasons, that bluffs deserve closer examination.

OK. But aren't blind steal plays and blind steal bluffs the same thing. Not quite. When it's checked to you preflop and you raise to steal the blinds, you can do it with any hand if you think the situation is right. If you do it with pocket aces against a player who always defends his big blind, it's definitely a blind steal play. But it's not a blind steal bluff. You've got the preflop nuts and you're hoping to get action.

If you raise preflop against a player who never, ever defends his big blind, it's also a blind steal play. But if you're doing it with 7-2 offsuit, it does count as a blind steal bluff. So blind steal plays and blind steal bluffs aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Every time you go through the motion of raising when it's checked to you in late position, FlopZoom sees it as a blind steal play. If you don't have a pair, it also counts as a blind steal bluff. That's why blind steals appear on both the plays and bluffs charts.

Bluffing Frequency
You can bluff too often and you can bluff too infrequently. It all depends on who you're playing against, how they see you, your relative stacks, and how big the blinds are.

Bluffing too often can be a mistake, especially against a larger number of players at your table. Bluffing too infrequently can also be a mistake, and possibly more costly, late in a tournament when you're down to a few players or heads-up. As they say in poker, "it depends".

Win / Loss Ratios
To help you see whether you bluffed too much or too little in certain situations, we put the win / loss ratio indicator on each bluff bar. In the above example, the selected player's one-street bluffs worked more often than not. His two-street bluffs worked only 1 out of 4 times. So when and where did those bluffs fail? We clicked the opponent counts buttons and found out that he lost two of those two-street bluffs short handed.

Aggression becomes increasingly important as the number of opponent at your table decreases. It looks like our hero was doing the right thing but either ran into bigger hands or a bigger bluffer.

He did better with his blind defense bluffs. Remember: only bluffs with nothing are counted. But if you're short handed in a tournament and your M is low, you'd better not be giving up your blinds too easily. Even when you've got air.
Bluffs on Streets
You can view all bluffs on all streets by clicking the any street button. Or you can show just the bluffs on specific streets by clicking the preflop, flop, turn, or river buttons. For example, you can instantly see if your opponent tends to bluff against coordinated boards on the turn, or if he prefers to bluff rag boards on the flop.

Opponent Count
Click the full, short, any, or heads-up buttons to see how often the selected player bluffed against any number of players, or specifically against a full table, short handed table or heads-up.

Just click one of the position buttons to see from what seat or position range the selected player ran his bluffs. In general, bluffing from later positions is probably more successful than from earlier positions. Your mileage may vary, of course, so see which positions work best for your bluffs.

Did your squeeze plays always work today? Last week? Two weeks ago? Just click the interval buttons to set your range and move back and forth with the previous / next buttons to find out.


Click for Detail
Click on any of the bluff bars to see how many times the selected player ran that bluff, and how often the won or lost with that bluff. Here we see that our hero was only about 50/50 for blind defense bluffs.

Instant Playback
If you are looking at a single session, you can click any bluff type bar to play back all the relevant hands. If you click back to the playback pane you'll see just the hands in which the selected player made that type of bluff loaded into the hands list.

Bluffs are a special type of play, and there are many types of bluffs. Your best bluffing situations will depend on the number and playing styles of the opponents at your table, your particular image at various times during the session, tournament blind structures, and many other factors. FlopZoom's bluffs chart shows you what bluffs worked and didn't work in many different situations.

Advanced Tutorials:
Draws | Plays | Bluffs | Bets | Calls | Hands | Cards