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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: Bluff Catcher

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Aug 19, 2015

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When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, _Card Player_ brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: Bluff Catcher

What Is It?

A hand with marginal strength that is not good enough to bet or raise with, but strong enough to go to showdown against an opponent’s bluffs.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

Bluff catchers are also known as value calls. When you make a medium-strength hand that cannot be bet for value, it is often the best play to turn your hand into a bluff catcher. You let your opponent bet and call, hoping your opponent was bluffing. The strength of a bluff catcher can vary depending on your opponent’s betting range.

Give Me An Example (Or Two)

You are playing in a $2-$5 no-limit hold’em cash game and the cutoff raises to $20. You call from the big blind with KClub Suit QClub Suit and the flop comes down AClub Suit KDiamond Suit 6Diamond Suit. You check and your opponent makes a continuation bet of $30.

You call with second pair and the turn is the 5Club Suit. You check again and your opponent checks behind. The river is the 5Spade Suit, and you miss your flush draw. This might be a good opportunity to turn your hand into a bluff catcher.

Your opponent checked behind on the turn, so it’s possible that your pair of kings is the best hand, however, if you bet, he will likely fold all lower pairs and all of his missed draws. So instead, you check. Your opponent might bet a better hand, like a pair of aces. Or your opponent might check behind with their lower pairs and missed draws.

Or, your opponent might take your check as a sign of weakness and bluff. If your opponent does bluff, you can call with your bluff catcher and take down the pot.

When deciding whether or not to try a bluff catcher, you must consider your opponent. If your opponent is passive or tight, you should lean towards folding. If your opponent is especially aggressive or loose, then you should lean towards calling. The amount your opponent bets should also be considered when deciding to call with a bluff catcher. ♠