Setting up a Bluff

Power Up has brought many things from Poker, not least of which is the ability to bluff. In today’s hand from Arlie Shaban’s stream, we have a look at a situation where he plays to obscure his hand, and second guesses his opponent.

The hand starts unusually, with both players on exactly the same amount of chips. Arlie has King-Jack and just flat calls behind his opponent’s minimum button raise. Heads up, I have expected Arlie to raise here, and most likely take the pot pre-flop. His poker hand is strong enough to do that, but the powers he has in his hand give him enough options post flop to make just calling an option.

The flop is dealt to put two fives and a jack on the board, giving Arlie 2 pair, Jacks and fives. Arlie considers using his disintegrate to remove one of the fives from play, but this will make his pair of Jacks fairly obvious to the other player. Arlie checks, and his opponent checks back quickly, bringing the turn card of another five.

As Arlie explains here, he must discount his opponent having the last five in his hand. While the chances of this being the case aren’t zero, they are low enough for it to be a non-factor in making decisions. He has the disintegrate card to remove any over card to his Jack that might come on the river. This is important because Arlie’s Jack is only losing to a five, and pocket pairs of Queens, Kings and Aces. He is in a very strong position, but his hand is totally disguised as he has taken no aggressive actions so far this hand.

Arlie checks again, and this time the other player fires out a bet of half the pot. Arlie smooth calls, confident he is ahead in the hand. He checks after the river adds the Ten of spades to the board, and here is where Arlie starts to question the situation.

The opponent plays an EMP power card, and then shoves all in for more than the pot. This over-shove is a strong move, but does it match with his previous play? Preflop, he made a standard button raise. Most good players will do this with almost any card holding, so we can’t really gauge anything from this action. He checked back the flop after Arlie didn’t raise and did so quickly. This could be an indication of weakness. The half pot bet on the turn seems to be a stab to take the pot cheaply, and Arlie hasn’t shown any real strength yet. The EMP play followed by the shove on the river from Arlie’s opponent is the first real showing of strength. Is it a bluff?

What can the Ten of spades on the River given Arlie’s Opponent that he should be worried about? In addition to any 5s, pocket Queens, Kings and Aces, Arlie now must consider pocket Tens. This is a really small range to put his opponent on and doesn’t seem to match the actions taken in the hand.

Arlie has heavily disguised his hand and appears to be weak. As he concludes in the video, he has set up this situation for his opponent to bluff. It would be rude to not call here, and I would think a losing decision over the long term.

As you hopefully can see from this breakdown of Arlie’s play, it is possible to manipulate your opponent’s actions and gain insight into their holdings. In this case, Arlie second guesses his plan on the river, but after thinking through the previous actions, he comes to the decision that his opponent’s actions are a bluff and calls.

What do you think about Arlie’s play here? What would you have done differently? Comment below or join our Discord Channel and let us know.

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