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Represent

Representing - Bluffing - Misrepresenting

by Jesse Knight
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Represent in Poker
Represent – To bet with the intent of deceiving your opponent about the content of your hand.


As a poker player, it is your job to try to put your opponent on a hand or at least on a range of possible hands. There are a variety of tells which can act as tools to help you narrow down your opponent’s probable holding. Some of these tells result from your opponent’s betting pattern. There is a lot of information that can be gained from when (and in games with unstructured betting from how much), your opponent chooses to wager. For example, if the turn card in a Hold’em game brings a third heart on the board, and your opponent begins to bet or raise heavily, they often have a flush. Often, but not always.

Remember, your opponent knows you are making decisions about how to act on your hand based in part on how they themselves choose to bet. That creates the very real incentive for them to engage in betting maneuvers and ploys that are intended to lead to incorrect assumptions about their holdings. When your opponent bets with the objective of getting you to believe that they hold something different, they are representing another hand. Consider the previous hand scenario. The turn card has brought the heart flush, and your opponent bets out. It is possible that he has the flush, but it is also possible that he has only the ace of hearts and is representing the flush, even though he is still on a draw.

Players will sometimes represent specific hands, but often they will more generally represent strength or weakness. Obviously, you represent strength by betting and raising, and you represent weakness by checking. Many times, when someone represents weakness by checking when they are actually strong, it is part of a betting ploy called a “check-raise.” The idea behind a check-raise is that you can get more money into the pot if you can get your opponent to bet and then raise him, then you could had you simply bet and had your opponent call. Many times, if you check, your opponent will bet regardless of what he holds, because your checking is a representation of weakness. If he bets after you check, you will now have the option to raise him, completing the check-raise maneuver. Check and raise is a perfectly legitimate poker play in most games, but it is not allowed in many forms of lowball. In a game like Holdem, it is not only legitimate; it is a necessary element for maximizing profit. Still, some players do not like the check-raise play, and some are even angered or offended by it, considering it dirty or unsportsmanlike.

There can be situations where it makes sense to hold off on check raising, like during a friendly home game, or while playing poker with your boss, but in general, you should not shy away from check raising in a Hold’em game. Check raising is frequently a stronger play than betting out. For one thing, if you check and raise frequently, it protects your hand during the times when you are not check-raising. If you never check raise, your opponent will think that they can simply bet you off your hand anytime that you check. Mostly, they will be right. But if you check raise frequently, then they will have to be far more careful about betting after you check. This protects you.

In addition to checking to represent weakness, players may also bet or raise to represent strength. If your opponent thinks that you are betting a marginal holding, they may try to represent strength, and bluff raise you with a busted draw. Frequently, if your opponent represents strength early on in the hand, they will follow through with a continuation bet on the next betting round. If they think that you are unable to call, they are likely to bet all the way until the river.

Learning to represent what you do not have is a major key to being able to bluff and semi-bluff effectively. Semi-bluffing and bluffing are key components to a winning poker player’s game. They are also very difficult betting maneuvers to master. Evaluating when you can and should represent another hand is partially about knowing your opponent. Some players you can push around, against others bluffing is generally hopeless.

Usage: Representing A Flush, Represented Strength On The Flop, Represents

Previous Poker Term: Rebuy
Next Poker Term: Reraise

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