If you have made a review of the most important poker hands or you have been interested in delving a little deeper into the strategic fundamentals of poker, surely you have heard of the bluff catcher, a very well known play that serves to do what its name literally says: to catch a bluff. But what is the real meaning of a bluff catcher and when is it worth executing it? We tell you everything you need to know about the bluff catcher in poker.
Catching the bluff
From the literal translation little can be assumed, because it makes it quite clear: a bluff catcher is a hand that is played to catch a bluff. It doesn’t have to be a very good hand. In fact, it can be a pretty bad hand, but as long as it catches the bluff it will do the job.
Normally, a bluff catcher in poker is played when a bluff has been discovered. However, less experienced players or those who are bluffing and have more experience can cause someone to jump the gun and try to call a bluff that wasn’t really a bluff (in popular culture this has been used to shape scenes in fiction, such as Bond’s defeat in Casino Royale, when Le Chiffre forces Bond to call his bluff when he actually had a good hand). But movies aside, let’s focus on what it really means to execute a bluff catcher in a game.
How to know when to make a bluff catcher
In poker everything depends on the information you have and how you interpret certain signals or facts during the game. Thus, a bluff catcher is a hand that should only be executed when you are very sure that a player is bluffing and has nothing. However, the danger is that the bluff is a fluke with the last card or that it was really all an orchestrated provocation.
This makes it necessary to study the opponents very well and, since everything is based on perception, it is vital to be experienced enough to risk catching a bluff.
The true meaning of a bluff catcher is a hand that is actually behind the opponent’s entire betting value range. It is a hand that does not work with predominantly tight players, as their excessive conservatism prevents them from taking any bluff too far and therefore makes this play unfeasible.
It is elementary to keep in mind that bluffing is an art and that not all players know how to do it well. In this post you have all the details about how to bluff in a poker game, and they will help you to understand what is the real meaning of a bluff catcher in a game.
Considerations about the bluff catcher
For a bluff catcher to be successful, there are a number of things to consider before venturing in. To begin with, you have to know when the cards you have can shape a bluff catcher. Moreover, this hand is only profitable during the river, since in the other phases of the game it will be nullified.
The more daring could try to make a bluff catcher on the turn if they wanted to, but this exposes the player to having to accept another bet on the river, which means having to make an extra effort in terms of chips without having any guarantee of victory. For that reason a bluff catcher on the turn is usually discarded.
A good bluff catcher causes the end of the action, that is, it prevents any of the players from talking once it is thrown, stopping the bets, something that does not always happen. The margin of exposure is very high, so you have to be sure when to throw it.
A bluff catcher in poker does not form by itself: for a hand to end up being a bluff catcher, a series of variables must be present and it does not work with all types of players. For it to work, the bluffing opponent who is to be caught must have a very specific conception of poker, must feel comfortable adopting an aggressive profile and must be bold enough to continue bluffing without seeing the danger of being caught.
For this reason, it is especially important to study the opponents to try to understand what their game is. There are players who directly discard themselves when it comes to identifying bluffs, and others just play with the rest without daring to go further. That is why it is essential to study the opponents: one who is too daring and with a more aggressive profile will have more chances to go for a bluff that can be discovered.
Also analyze their cards: knowing the minimum range that their hands have to bet is the basis to try to find out if their cards are worse or better. If theirs are better and your hand turns out to be worse, you could be looking at a textbook bluff catcher.