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What is the meaning of Bluff Catcher?
The term ‘Bluff Catcher’ is exactly what it sounds like: A hand that, while not super powerful, is good enough to beat your opponent when he’s bluffing. It’s a hand that’s not strong enough to value bet, and not strong enough to beat your opponent’s value-betting range, but has showdown value against bluffs.
*Bluff catchers are weak hands that can really only beat a bluff. They’re not strong enough to bet with although there can be some value from allowing opponents to bluff their missed draws or just total air. Generally, when a player makes a “hero call” it’s made with a bluff catcher hand when they have some type of showdown value like Ace high, King high, and small pairs.
*A poker hand that can “only beat a bluff.”
Example: He bet huge on the river and all I had was a bluff catcher, so I decided to fold.
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When: Generally when people talk about bluff catchers they’re referring to calling the final bet on the river.
Where: Bluff catchers are most commonly found in bluffing games like No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha but the concepts involved are useful in any poker game.
Why: By exploiting players who bluff too much you can turn mediocre hands that you’d usually be folding into money-makers.
Recognizing a Bluff Catcher
Knowing when your hand is a bluff catcher is the first step to playing it more profitably.
Your hand can only truly be a bluff catcher on the river.
While your hand may technically be one on the turn, if you call you may still have to call another bet on the river.
A true bluff catcher closes the action. If you call, the hand is over and immediately the hands are shown down.
Like everything in Hold’em, what makes a hand a bluff catcher depends on a number of variables, from your opponent to your image to any prior dynamics at the table.
It depends on everything. So, like always, you need to pay attention at the table.
Study your opponents and try and figure out their playing tendencies.
If you know their value-betting range, then you know whether or not your current hand is ahead or behind that range.
If you’re behind it, then your hand is a bluff catcher.
Bluff Catching Done Right
The most important part of using this poker power move is understanding when you’re holding a bluff catcher hand, and whether the conditions are right to call that bet on the river.
Like so much in poker, the right decision depends entirely on what you know about your opponent.
You must understand his value-betting range, and his bluffing frequency. You must understand his behavior.
By definition a bluff catcher is a hand that’s behind your opponent’s entire value-betting range. So because you can only win against a bluff, it’s paramount to be able to spot players and situations where bluffing is common.
Quite simply, the bluff catcher will never work against someone who never bluffs
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