Using Bet Sizing to identify the Bluffs

Identifying an opponent that is bluffing is all about using the snippets of information that you have at your disposal; almost like completing a jigsaw. 

One invaluable piece of information that you do have at your disposal is your opponent’s bet size, and bet sizes can really help when trying to identify a bluff.

When using this important piece of information, it is often great advice to first categorise your opponent: skilled or weak? 

According to many poker websites, the strong players tend to plan ahead with their bluffs. It is a premeditated attack that will have encompassed the potential action on all three streets. 

For example, if a great player check-raises the turn, with the intention of betting the river, they will leave themselves at least 80% of the pot size left to bet. 

Weaker players do not plan ahead and are a lot more transparent. This means that they have a tendency to bet smaller with their strong hands and over bet with their bluffs. 

As you can see, identifying the strength and skill of your opponent is critical when evaluating if you can use bet sizing as a tell, when determining if an opponent is bluffing or not.

Another important understanding is the psychology of your opponent. If they are a good player, they will be asking themselves if they would have done the same thing in your shoes? 

So, understanding this means that you can use some reverse psychology to extract value from these types of opponents. 

Picking off bluffs is very player dependant. Sometimes the more elaborate bluffs are more likely to fool a very good player, whereas they are wasted on a weaker player. 

In general though, it is probably better to let someone else be a hero. Just fold your hand when the decisions get tough and extract as much value as you can when you have a very strong hand.

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Last Updated 17 June 2015
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