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StrategyWeekly No Limit

Deception (3) - Deception vs. Valueplay



Deception vs Valueplay

from MiiWiin

In the last two articles we dealt with the topic of deception. The last article was mostly about standard moves, which we use to disguise our hand as much as possible. Today, as a finish for this episode, we deal with a special example as well as an analysis with which we will compare deceptionplay with normal value play.


We have already learnt and understood the basics and the application. Surely everyone knows that disguising your own hand has a positive effect on your game. However, what is the most important thing when it comes to deception? Opponents that follow a line of thought when they play!

We assume that our opponents - at least some of them - pay attention to the hands played at the table which they are not involved in. Even without any supporting software or taking down notes it stands out whether someone is limping or raising every hand or whether someone generally plays tight or loose.

This image is partly used by the villains to make a decision. If you only play or raise few hands, you will get credit for your raises and continuation bets on the flop. In turn, if you play aggressively and raise a lot of hands preflop, your foldequity will decrease substantially.

What is your image?

It is important not to limit your thoughts to your real image. It is much more important to think about how your actions affect what your opponents think of you. If you are playing on a table with 5 unknown players and you raise a few times in series with strong hands, some might think you are a very loose player and a maniac respectively which your aren't. If you fold your first 10 hands because your are only getting crap hands, some might think you are pretty tight. Therefore it is important to take your current table-image, and if possible your own table stats, into account when you are faced with a marginal decision.

Who is sitting on the table?

Of course the basis for deception is to find opponents who do pay attention to this. Right in the beginning of a game, you should always check whether there are familiar faces at the table. You will get an image by playing deceptively and the question is whether there are players at the table who know you from previous rounds. If you classify them as a thinking player as well, you can assume that villain "knows" you. You don't have to create an image again because you can assume that villain will adjust his play according to the image he has already got about you.


An example:

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6 handed) HandRecorder v0.9b

Stacks & Stats
MP ($25) (19/15/2.5/26/2823) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
CO ($25)
UTG ($25)
BB ($25)
SB ($25) (47/3/3.9/19/35)
Hero ($25)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A , A
3 folds, Hero raises to $1.00, SB calls $1.00, 1 fold

Flop: ($2.25) A, 9, 2 (2 players)
SB bets $2.50, Hero...???

We are sitting at a table with 4 unknown opponents. However, we know the player in middle position. We have played some large pots with him before and we know that he is a thinking player.

After 35 hands, we have some stats, which don't say that much, but have to do for the moment. The small blind is a player who has called every other hand preflop but rarely raised. He likes to play aggressively postflop though and already caught the attention with a purebluff.

We have a very nice hand on the flop. We hit our set and the player donks into us. The board only offers a flushdraw. We can't exclude this possibility but it surely is only a little part of villains range. Furthermore we are holding the ace of spades, which gives us a flushdraw as well as our full-house outs.

We have two options now: We can call and slowplay our set or raise by default.

Advantages and disadvantages of the raise:

For deception purposes a raise would be standard in this position. We would probably raise/fold, raise/call or muck kings, queens and worse hands as well. (Which option might be the best one is not to be discussed now). A call doesn't make much sense though. Similarly we would want to protect Ax. We would rarely just call here although it would be possible against this opponent. But which hands do we call with otherwise? Only with the nuts?

The real problem only starts here: If we just call down strong hands, but raise with weaker hands, we'll eventually give away our hand.

We assume that the small blind is such a bad player that it doesn't bother him. Such players like to bluff on the turn again; hence we should let him do it. We can probably expect more value in this situation if we just call on the flop. But how does this affect the way the other opponents think about us if we play a hand with them in the future?

It will be a good piece of information for the other three opponents. However, we don't know if and when we will play a hand with these players. First and foremost it would only affect our current table image. It is obvious that we have to keep this in mind for the current table because we are seen as a slowplayer right now.

This is not bad for us either because we deviated from our standard line. We have shown that we tend to slowplay with strong hands, but this isn't actually the case. The players will give us less credit for our raises in the future which we should make use of. We should abstain from making bluff-raises against a donk, in the sense of a continuation bet, in the future.

We don't have to worry too much about the player in middle position. There are three possibilities as to how our opponent dealt with this situation:

  • He didn't notice it! Our hands don't interest him much because he can already asess us and doesn't need any additional information.
  • He did notice it but he can assess us as well as villain. He knows that we purposely abstained from deception.
  • He misinterpreted the whole situation. He suddenly has the impression that we play our hands differently. He is surprised that we didn't raise normally, but if he thinks that we have become a slowplayer, we have created another form of deception. If he does give us less credit for our raises, we will get paid off more with our strong hands.

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6 handed) HandRecorder v0.9b

Stacks & Stats
MP ($25) (40/3/0.8/32/50) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
CO ($25) (8/3/1.3/22/50)
BU ($25) (30/4/2.2/29/50)
BB ($25) (30/0/0.0/37/50)
SB ($25) (41/4/1.3/36/50)
Hero ($25)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with 9 , 9
Hero calls $0.25, MP calls $0.25, 1 fold, BU calls $0.25, SB calls $0.25, BB checks

Flop: ($1.25) 2, 4, 9 (2 players)
Hero bets $1.25, ...

A hand which is rarely played like this. We normally raise 99 from UTG. This action is part of our deception because many thinking players would suspect a small pocket pair from a limp/call.

If we hit a flop like this, hero is a player who usually check/raises (because hero is normally in a raised pot with his 99!). He receives valuable bets and can protect properly with his raise.

But it is a little different in this situation. We have found a table with a lot of calling stations who have basically always seen the flop and the turn. They even wanted to see showdowns with marginal hands.

We limp with 99 from UTG. As indicated there are 4 reasons for a standard raise:

  • We can win the pot preflop.
  • We can win the pot through a continuation bet.
  • We can hit our set and get paid off.
  • The raise belongs to our total concept of deception. We stay unreadable.

In this case neither of these points is fulfilled. Winning an unimproved hand is nearly impossible against these showdown-crazy villains. It is very clear as well though that if we do hit our set, we will be paid off even if the pot is unraised.

This leaves us with the most important point, the deception. We don't know any of these villains from previous rounds and don't expect any of them to be interested in our range. Having a disadvantage in the following rounds due to this hand can be excluded.

We assume that we have a higher expected value if we adjust our game to abstain from deception and to limp/call a lot more preflop to hit a good hand.

It is a different scenario on the flop. Thinking that we could chase away all opponents is, as mentioned, nearly impossible. It is possible though that none of these passive players bets. Therefore a bet, contrary to our normal game, is advisable. According to this we can abstain from disguising our hand to bet for value and to protect against draws.

Note: For both hands applies the fact that it is more about the theory of deception and the question of when you can abstain from using it. Whether the standard game might be better from other perspectives (raise flop in hand one, raise preflop in hand two) is another question.


PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6 handed) HandRecorder v0.9b

Stacks & Stats
MP ($25)
CO ($25)
UTG ($25)
BB ($25)
SB ($25) (24/21/3.1/24/2099) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
Hero ($25)

Preflop: Hero is Button with A , A
3 folds, Hero raises to $1.00, SB raises to $3.25, 1 fold, Hero calls $3.25.

Flop: ($6.75) 2, 2, K (2 players)
SB bets $5.00, Hero calls $5.00

Turn: ($16.75) 5 (2 players)
SB bets $12.50, Hero raises All-in, SB calls All-in

This special example shows you how to use deception if you know who your are playing against. We know villain. He knows, that we steal relatively loosely from the button. Furthermore he knows, that we know, that he defends his blind very loosely.

He would probably fold on a 4-bet. As we are in a kind of "blind-battle", we can slowplay here.

Villain will pretty much never put us on AA, because we would want to move all-in preflop with that hand. As we are in position, we call at first and call on this drawless flop as well. We don't want to chase any worse hands away. Villain commits himself to the pot by betting the turn and has to call our turnpush.

We drift away from our normal deceptionplay a little. Villain has seen something new from us, namely that we can slowplay aces as well. The next time we push aces, we hope to get a little less credit and a call from villain.

As we have played a lot with villain in the past and assume that we will play against him in the future as well, we have expanded our deception a little more with this variation. We give our opponent something to think about because he won't be able to figure out what to think of our preflop push or a call in a blind-battle in the future. We don't even know it ourselves.


As mentioned, this article wasn't explicitly about the examples but about the theory of deception. When we use it and when we can abstain from it. You should always ask yourself the question whether it is senseful to pay attention to deception. Do I know the opponents? Are my opponents interested in the hands I play? Can I confuse a thinking player by making another move?

Staying unreadable is one of the most important parts in poker. By default we should be able to do this. If we now find the right spots for some exceptions to play completely different, we will be like a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. If we achieve this, there'll be nothing in the way for future success!


Comments (10)

#1 jere007, 21 Apr 08 09:32

nicely written! thx!

#2 Sugoi82, 31 Jul 08 01:09

great stuff!

#3 TheBrood, 09 Sep 08 19:37

Very interesting, an easy read too =)

#4 mouse89, 14 Oct 08 15:49


#5 theboydave, 20 Jul 09 01:11

Good article interesting and very relevent.

#6 shocktactics, 14 Aug 09 14:59

good quality info, thankyou

#7 bkkconnexxion, 21 Oct 09 23:47

value value value<br />

#8 Bandzai23, 05 Jan 10 15:31

I think this could be written much better. It is hard to figure out which statements are presumptions, and which - conclusions. Paragraphs beginning with a continuation of thought does not help either. The article could be better structured.<br /> <br /> Overall it gives food for thought, which I appreciate, but not necessarily any answers.

#9 AdamLaw33, 29 Mar 10 01:53

nice.. very tricky stuff<br />

#10 kaylafromshields, 15 Dec 11 19:45

Realy enjoyed readin these articles good stuff