Consider the following. A tight-aggressive opponent open raises in middle position, and you call in late position. The flop comes King Nine Five rainbow, and your opponent makes a continuation bet. You call his bet, and the turn comes a Jack, putting two spades on the board. Your opponent bets the turn, and you put in a small raise with a bet size such that if your opponent calls, the remaining stacks will be slightly less than the river pot. Now the question I want you to ask yourself is, “What are the possible hands I could be holding here?” For many players, the answer is a super strong range of hands consisting mostly of sets and perhaps the occasional Jack-Nine suited or King-Jack suited for two pair. If you have opponents that aren’t completely oblivious to what’s going on around them, it’s going to be rare that they pay off your good hands in this situation with any regular frequency. When you identify a situation like this where your range is extremely strong, then you should figure out how to add some semi-bluffs to that range so that you can take advantage of the fact that your opponent is going to fold so often.
So on the turn when we raise, what if we had drawing hands in our range like straight draws or a runner flush draw? This would be taking advantage of how our opponents view our range. But how can we get there with those types of hands? Well, we would need to have them on the flop and then again pre-flop. So if the board is King Nine Five Jack, that means that we would need some sort of straight draw on the flop. There are no possible open-ended straight draws on the flop, so we would need to call the flop continuation bet with some gutshot draws with hands like Queen-Jack suited, Jack-Ten suited, Eight-Seven suited, and Seven-Six suited. If each of these hands has a runner flush draw, then we are in even greater luck. Additionally, hands like Five-Four or Six-Five of spades would also be decent with a combination of a low pair plus runner draws that we can semi-bluff on the turn.
Now look at what’s happened to our opponent’s decision process throughout the hand. Pre-flop he’s going to open with whatever range he decides to play, so that part doesn’t change. On the flop, however, many times he’s going to miss this board and continuation bet anyway, but now we’re not going to be folding often enough that it will be profitable for him. To adjust for this, he would have to start barreling the turn with air more often, but then we will be picking off his turn continuation bets with turn semi-bluff raises, increasing our turn profit even more. However, if he just bets the flop and doesn’t follow up with turn aggression, then we simply take a free card or take away a nice-sized pot with a turn bet, completely a play called floating.
Taking the time to balance an extremely strong poker hand range of ours creates all sorts of problems for our opponent while giving us even more opportunities to make profitable plays and take pot away from our opponents that we would normally not be fighting for. Additionally, once our opponents see our bluffs in a situation like this, he’s going to adjust to call down our raises with more hands, which means he’s going to start paying off our super strong hands in these situations more often, yielding even more profit for us.