I don’t play a lot of No Limit Holdem cash games, so I’m a bit of a beginner myself, but I have found some success making a specific play in somewhat loose games against a certain type of opponent, something I’ll simply call a two-street bluff from the blinds, since I’m not restealing.

I’m not trying to take credit for this play (I assume it’s a pretty commonly used strategy by high-level players) but it’s a play I feel a beginner can easily incorporate into their arsenal, and it can be a fairly profitable even if you only use it once a session.

I actually used this play during my Poker Night in America appearance, which I didn’t think would be possible in a televised $25/$50 NLHE game, but as the hand was playing out I just felt the timing for this play was right.

The recipe

If you want this play to work, you need:

  • A really good read on the active players
  • A tight table image which makes a raise from the blind look much stronger than it is.
  • A straightforward player who has limped (which you won’t find in a ton of games above the $1/$2 or $1/$3 limits) and isn’t overly sticky post-flop.

Here’s how it went down on Poker Night in America – skip to 1:22:00.

The setup

A player by the name of Mike Sigel had been limping a lot, and seemed to be doing so with suited Queens and Kings, Ax type hands, and even though I didn’t see it, probably small suited cards. Mike is a Stud Poker player and didn’t seem like he had a lot of No Limit experience, and after an hour and a half or so, he appeared to be playing a pretty passive ABC game and wasn’t calling a lot post-flop if he missed.

Furthermore, Mike was showing virtually every hand, so I was developing a decent read on his play. He also made a comment to me along the lines of, “you know you can put the chips in the pot,” a bit earlier so he had me pegged as a very tight player, which I was based on the hands I’d been dealt.

But I also realized I could now use this image, something I tried to do earlier in the game when I raised with A9 from mid-late position – this was a dumb move n this game, considering the players on my left were very tricky: Jared Bleznick, Sam Abernathy, Shaun Deeb, and Joe McKeehen. On the other hand, the lineup on my right was Mike Sigel, Dew Micali, and Matt Glantz, and both Sigel and Micali seemed to be far more straightforward.

In the hand in question I was the big blind with a live straddle by Bleznick, but the play I’m about to detail works the same from the small blind when there isn’t a straddle. The reason I like doing this from the small blind without a straddle or even better, from the big blind with a straddle, is the extra money in the pot, and the ability to lead out 100% of the time post-flop.

The execution

Sigel open-limped from two off the button (he had K3 of hearts), and so long as nobody raised I had already made up my mind to raise the hand regardless of my cards – which ended up being the powerhouse J-2 offsuit.

I raised to $450, content to either win the $275 in the pot or perhaps get a call from Sigel – The sizing was intended to be just large enough to keep Bleznick from calling with a huge amount of his range. I really didn’t want Bleznick to call with position on me in a three-handed pot, whereas Sigel had already showed some interest in playing his hand and somewhat defined it, so I wasn’t surprised when he called, although I think he folds 50% of the time and raises close to 0% of the time.

In the end, Bleznick folded and Sigel called. The flop was A-9-T; pretty much a perfect flop for me. In this case I would actually rather see an Ace flop than a Jack, as, based on what I’ve seen, his raising/limping range and his limp/call range seemed to exclude Aces.

I bet $500 into a $1,050 pot and took it down.

Since I had the lead from playing out of position, I gave myself two chances to win the pot with a complete bluff:

  1. Pre-flop I risked $350 to win $275, I suspect Bleznick calls or raises with maybe as much as 33% of his range here, and Sigel with 50% if Bleznick folds, and close to 100% if Bleznick calls.
  2. Post-flop I risked $500 to win $1,050, and I think Sigel folds over 50% of the time in this situation.

If I’m right, 33% of the time I win the pot preflop; 33% of the time I either folded or am facing both players and probably done with the hand; and 33% of the time it’s me and Sigel to the flop.

If Bleznick is in the pot I’ve either folded or pretty much given up. If it’s me and Sigel I bet $500 and win roughly 50% of the time.

Assuming I never win the pot if Bleznick plays, and I never win if Sigel calls or raises the flop, this play is worth about $250 in this spot, and probably more.