There’s this weird old man that I frequently play with in this $100 tournament. His actions and mannerisms perplex me – he’s just a weird old dude and I can’t ever tell where he’s coming from. He plays like a nit when he has an average stack but double him up and it’s very hard to get him out of a pot. I generally have avoided any sort of bluff with him just because he’s so unpredictable and is liable to call down with damn near anything when he’s got chips.
Then yesterday he shows this huge bluff on the river. The interesting thing was how he was behaving right before the other guy called. This old man, let’s call him Gary, was about as full of frenetic energy as you could get. I hardly ever see Gary bluff, and combined with this excessive movement after a bet, which for most people usually means great strength, I thought it was pretty certain he was huge. He was just all full of facial quirks and little arm movements and raising eyebrows.
He also performed a little tableau that usually means weakness. You know the action you’ll sometimes see in a game where someone makes a bet and then they sit all tense, with their hand gripping their cards with their thumb underneath as if they’re threatening to flip the cards up on the table? As if they are waiting for you to call cause they’re so jazzed to turn up their winning hand? Yeah, that’s usually bullshit and they usually are bluffing. Put it this way; would you really act all jazzed to turn up your winning hand if you had a monster? Why would you potentially scare the other person out of calling if you’re that excited about it?
So that individual tell said “weak”, but based on the other evidence in the hand – his continued betting all the way to the river, the substantial amount of the river bet, the fact that he was so full of unrestrained nervous energy, and the fact that he’s an old uncreative man – I was pretty sure he was huge.
Thankfully this other guy called him, which I was rooting for him to do cause I really wanted to see Gary’s hand. Gary showed a pure bluff – low cards, not even a draw at any point – and the hero showed a Q8 for a pair of Queens with a real weak kicker. Gary looked kind of crestfallen for having lost his substantial chip lead trying to bluff a calling station. He was out of the game a few hands later. I don’t think I’ll see him running another bluff any time soon.
But this hand got me thinking about the types of players who get all antsy when they’re bluffing. They’re few and far between – of course the usual route for a bluffer is to remain silent and still and just try to look neutral, hoping the other person will go away. But you’ve got this guy Gary, and you will occasionally see other players who will get more animated when bluffing than they do otherwise.
I think the thought process for some people must go something like: “They’re onto me. I can’t just sit still and not say or do anything – everyone knows that looks like a bluff. People can see right through me. I’ve got to look natural. What can I do?” Then the arms and head and hands start moving around. I don’t know, though – that doesn’t exactly explain the Tourette’s-like movements that Gary was putting off and that I’ve seen other people exhibit. It’s something I’ll have to study more of.