Refining Poker Bluff Strategies: Insights from Barry Carter

Barry Carter recently shared an enlightening moment from his journey in mastering poker bluff and bet sizing. Despite years of gameplay, Barry realized he had been bluffing with the wrong hands and using inappropriate bet sizes.

In his self-study series, Barry delves into his process of tackling poker dilemmas, often seeking advice from coaches or solvers to critique his strategies. During a recent session with renowned poker coach Dara O’Kearney, a significant insight changed his approach to selecting bluffs.

Barry had previously believed that bigger bets required stronger semi-bluffs, thinking that if he were called, he’d want the safety net of a potent draw due to the substantial money at stake. However, this approach was flipped on its head after analyzing a scenario with Dara using GTO Wizard’s guidelines.

Refining Poker Bluff Strategies Insights from Barry Carter

Consider a hand like T8s, which offers an open-ended straight draw on a 972 rainbow flop—seemingly perfect for an overbet according to Barry’s old logic. But GTO Wizard suggests this is better suited for a smaller bet. The real candidates for overbet bluffs turn out to be Broadway hands like KQ, KJ, KT, QJ, and QT—both suited and offsuit. These hands possess backdoor straight and, occasionally, flush potential, but aren’t strong on their own.

The logic here revolves around the response to a potential reraise. Holding T8s, you wouldn’t want to fold in response to a raise due to its high equity. Conversely, hands like QJo, while weaker, are easier to let go if faced with a raise despite a larger initial bet.

For instance, QJo holds a 36.3% equity on this flop—making it a straightforward fold if reraised, yet very beneficial if the large poker bluff takes down the pot. Meanwhile, T8s, with a 51.2% equity, actually stands strong against most hands and is almost a value bet in this scenario.

Dara O’Kearney highlighted a key point from Patrick Leonard, emphasizing the importance of realizing equity in poker. Effective bluffing should involve hands at the lower end of your range, allowing you to over-realize your equity while minimizing losses on your stronger hands.

Through this lesson, Barry Carter illustrates the critical nuances of choosing when and how to poker bluff, transforming his approach to ensure more strategic and thoughtful betting in poker.

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