How to Bluff the Regs
But the great thing about poker is that for every adjustment there is always a counter-adjustment. Many micro stakes players have taken this folding thing way too far and some of the better regs have taken advantage of this by being more aggressive and bluffing more. The prime target for these bluffs is a player type that I have discussed many times before, the "TAGfish." They typically have stats that look something like this:
Full Ring: 13/10/2 WTSD 22%
6max: 19/16/2 WTSD 22%
The first set of numbers is VPIP/PFR/TotalAF. If you are unfamiliar with what these mean go check out my mega article on HUD setup here.
Basically this player type is tight, fairly passive and doesn't like to stick large amounts of their stack in the middle without the nuts. We can notice this most especially by their relatively low WTSD% (went to showdown %). The average is about 24% among regs according to my database. These players are the perfect opponent to run a big time bluff against on the later streets. I will go through a couple examples of how we can do this shortly.
How to Bluff the Fish
However, first I want to be really clear about something. If you are table selecting properly at these stakes (a horse that I have beaten to death on this blog, in my books and elsewhere) then you should be running into a whole bunch of other bad regs who are calling stations and who you should not be bluffing very often. They will have stats that look something like this:
Full Ring: 13/10/2 WTSD 27%
6max: 19/16/2 WTSD 27%
As you can see the WTSD% is the crucial stat here once again. Even though this player type is only going to showdown 5% more often than their TAGfish counterpart this is actually a huge relative difference. Every session we all face many close decisions on the later streets. Some regs just won't fold their small over pair, top pair or even their middle pair though. On the other hand, plenty of the weaker TAGfish regs frequently fold all of these hands.
This is where most of this 5% difference comes from. You don't want to be bluffing these calling station regs very often whose WTSD% is in the high 20's. Players who are in the low 20's though should be a prime target.
If you are table selecting well then you should also be playing with plenty of the standard SLPs (semi-loose passive) and fish at these stakes. These players of course don't fold anything at all. They will have stats that look something like this (Full Ring or 6max):
SLP: 27/8/1 WTSD 29%
Fish: 52/8/1 WTSD 33%
You are simply not going to turn a profit trying to run a big bluff against either of these player types. You should almost never try to bluff these players on the later streets. It is often simply winrate suicide because they will call you down with any piece, even no pair hands on occasion.
So therefore, when bluffing at the micros, we should be squarely focused on the weak TAGfish regs who do not go to showdown very often. Let's go through a couple examples of how this will work in practice:
NL2 Full Ring
Villain is a 13/10/2 TAGfish with a 22% WTSD
Hero raises from UTG with A♥Q♠
Villain calls from the BTN
The flop comes,
The turn comes,
We have all seen this position many times before. It is the classic double barreling spot against a weaker reg on a turn scare card. When he calls preflop we put him on a range of mostly pairs trying to set-mine us and the occasional slow-played big ace or big pair. Very few of these hands hit this flop hard and very few of them will be happy about seeing that king pop up on the turn either. Suppose we double barrel and get called on the turn though?
The river comes,
This is a spot where you could think about firing another shell. It really looks like our opponent is probably hanging on with some sort of mid pair hand like 88, 99, TT, JJ or QQ. Even if he somehow hit the king on the turn we can expect a player like this (22% WTSD) to think long and hard about folding it too if we can fire the third bullet here. Unless he literally flopped the absolute nuts with 66 or 77 there is a good chance that we get a player like this to lay down the entire rest of his range.
Villain is a 19/16/2 TAGfish with a 22% WTSD, 75% Flop CBet, and a 60% Turn CBet.
Villain raises from UTG
Hero calls from the CO with 8♣8♠
The flop comes,
The turn comes 9♠
Here is another spot versus a weak reg where we could consider running a bluff. Once again we should ask ourselves what our opponent can have in a spot like this. When he raises from UTG in a 6max game a tight reg like this is probably on a range of the typical 22-AA, AK, AQ, AJ and KQ. We can also see that this player follows up with another CBet on the turn fairly often at 60%. However, we know that given this range and this board that he rarely has a nut hand. He would have to have exactly JJ, 99, 66 or 22 to feel extremely confident here.
Since this is another weak reg this looks to be a good spot to turn our hand into a bluff on occasion by raising. I should mention that once again our actual hand value doesn't really matter that much because we are simply playing the player and his range here. We know that he can't be very strong all that often on this board and that he often folds when faced with big pressure.
I should also mention that like the previous hand my plan is to fire a lot of rivers if called on the turn. When I find an opportunity to bluff like this I do not like to give up without firing the final shell as well. This is because he is going to call our raise a lot on the turn with hands like AA, KK, QQ and AJ. A TAGfish reg like this though will often check all of these hands to us on the river unimproved and make a tough lay down if we can fire another substantial bet.
Like I said before, my intention with this article was not to get you all to start bluffing up a storm against the typical regs that you find at these stakes. This would be terrible for your winrate against most regs especially at NL2, NL5 and NL10. This is why I zeroed in on the very specific TAGfish player type who is relatively tight but typically won't put big amounts of his stack in the middle without a huge hand.
When pushed around enough though even these players will eventually adjust so it is important not to bluff them every single time in spots like this. Many regs at these stakes will simply start spite calling you if they think that something fishy is going on. The key is to walk that fine line where it is just believable enough for them to keep letting you have it.
The old adage "don't bluff at the micros" is still mostly true these days especially at the lowest stakes. However, hopefully this article helped show you that there are a few spots where you can boost your winrate against the right opponent in the right situation.
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