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Top 10 tricky poker moves

10 August 2020

Poker can be as simple or complex as the person playing it. Of course, there are “standard” plays that are often the most profitable line to take in a given hand, but there are opportunities in countless pots to execute a “tricky” or more advanced play that will earn you more money.

Today, we explore the most deceptive poker moves available in Texas Hold'em so you have a few tricks up your sleeve the next time you play.

10. The check raise
For those that don’t understand this play, it’s where you check post-flop and then re-raise your opponent’s bet. A play that was once met with derision in casinos is now considered a very powerful play. It represents significant strength to most poker players. After all, why would anyone bluff in this way? It costs more than just betting outright? This move is a tricky play as you do not know if your opponent will bet. It’s also a play that opponents don’t expect. It can be used very effectively against those who continuation bet relentlessly as you force them to have a hand like top pair or better to continue.

The min 3 bet is not to be used out of position.

The min 3 bet is not to be used out of position. (photo by Needpix)

9. The min 3 bet
This is a play to be used sparingly and only against weak players when you’re in position. It’s a great way to isolate a weak player open raising. It is not to be used out of position as you will only be bloating the pot up and will almost certainly be called. It’s a tricky play to make as most players accept 3 bet sizes need to be at least 2.5 times the initial raise. By executing a min 3 bet, you are giving the impression you want action. Thus, it’s a useful move to make with a hand that plays well post flop and also likely to be ahead of a loose fish opening range.

8. The squeeze play
The squeeze play is where you 3 bet over a raise and one or more other players call. It was made famous by the likes of Dan Harrington and Barry Greenstein many years ago. The logic behind it is that if the initial raiser folds, you are almost assured folds from the rest allowing you to scoop a decent pot without showdown. It’s a great play to make provided the initial raiser is likely to be opening a wide range of hands. The logic stands true today for most players. If they had a hand worthy of committing lots of chips, they likely would have 3 bet themselves. Naturally, it should be used with caution as observant opponents will notice if you overuse it. It also helps if you have a solid table image. Don’t try this if you’ve been caught bluffing in recent pots and have a spewy table image.

7. 4 Bet bluff
Performing a 4-bet bluff is not easy to do. Some players just don’t have the guts to follow through, but it’s a very effective counter weapon to those that 3 bet you lightly. It’s very tricky as you need to understand the context of the situation to pull it off. It’s best used when the 3 bettor is in late position. Realistically, you can’t 4 bet bluff early position 3 bettors often and expect them to be weak. The best situation to try this move is when you and your opponent are in late position, or in the blinds. These are scenarios where players are more likely to have a wider 3 betting range.

6. The limp re-raise
I used to love making this play in live cash games. You know the games in casinos where you have straddles and people raising 20 big blinds? This is a great way to play big pairs from early position (if the table composition is right). These situations are rare but worth the wait. If you just make a standard raise from under the gun, you will find yourself getting lots of calls and playing multi-way. Sometimes it’s better to take a risk and limp in, particularly if there is a live straddle. This allows for others to raise, call and build the pot. The best thing about this play is that you either win it uncontested or may end up all in before the flop against a hand you dominate.

5. The cheap bluff
Another tricky play that works well against tight players or when your opponent is likely on a draw and it’s missed. You may fire the flop bet in and get called, then try again on the turn and it freezes you. Consider the board texture before giving up! Sometimes your opponent’s hand is heavily weighted toward it being a draw, so if the draw(s) miss – a small bet is all that is needed to win. I am talking 15-25% of the pot size. Let’s look at an example to illustrate:

You open raise with 5d 7d from middle position and are called by a tight player in the big blind. The flop comes Ts 9c 3s. You bet and he calls and a 2d peels. He check-calls again. Your opponent’s range is weighted more towards flush draws and Q J than a hand with a 10 in it. If the river misses those cards, you can bluff cheaply and expect a fold a reasonable amount of the time. Sure, he may show you A-10 from time to time but not often enough to avoid making this bluff attempt. You may even find him folding a hand as strong as second pair. Remember, you have bet every round.

4. The donk lead
A play that is heavily criticized by many poker players, the donk lead is where you bet into the initial raiser. When used properly, I think it’s a creative and unconventional bet that works beautifully. It can put your opponent on the backfoot and a lot of the time they will scratch their head and fold, happy to move on. It’s ideal to use against loose aggressive regulars with your strong hands as they will re-raise these donk bets liberally. It can also be used effectively as a bluff against weak tight players. They will just fold without giving it much thought. It goes without saying that it should not be used against calling stations.

Flat call a raise with pocket aces.

Flat call a raise with pocket aces.

3. Smooth calling aces
Another trappy move that can help you earn lots of money is to flat call a raise with pocket aces. The beauty in this move is that it’s unreadable. Nobody ever puts you on pocket aces when you flat call a raise. This tricky play opens the door to so many possibilities. You can re-raise flops and stack off smaller overpairs. You can wait until the river on a dry board and extract more value. Finally, you can sometimes stack opponents' 3 bet hands like pocket jacks and refuse to lay it down because you only called the initial raise.

2. The over-bet
Bet sizing is an important part of winning poker strategy. Whether you’re trying to get maximum value, pull off a bluff, or enforce a mathematical error, the size of your bets will accomplish what you are aiming to do. The over-bet is another move that is often ridiculed but can sometimes be the perfect bet. If you have the nuts and your opponent is a calling station and likely to call you, why would you bet less than you need to? Sometimes you just know your opponent will call a huge bet or will fold to a massive bet. A combination of intuition and table awareness is needed to master it, but it’s worth it if it means you can get the fold you want or the big payoff.

1. The blocker-to-nut-flush bluff
Finally, this is where you hold the ace of a suit on a 3 flush board and can represent the nut flush. It’s not a move to be employed too often. You must ensure the board is not paired and there’s not multiple raises if you are considering trying this move! Most players don’t lay down flushes very often so use it sporadically. It’s best used when you’ve flat called a flop bet, the flush possibility hits on the turn and your opponent has shut down and checked. You can also try a turn check raise if you’re feeling super brave and are out of position.
Top 10 tricky poker moves is republished from
Narciso Baldo

Narciso Baldo was a professional poker player for many years with over $700,000 in online MTT cashes and undocumented success in live cash games. Currently, he is the founder of the web site, coaches part-time and works in finance.
Narciso Baldo
Narciso Baldo was a professional poker player for many years with over $700,000 in online MTT cashes and undocumented success in live cash games. Currently, he is the founder of the web site, coaches part-time and works in finance.