THE DECISION to bluff is one thing. The decision to show a successful bluff is another, usually determined by whether you want to keep opponents guessing or believe that revealing your play might put the victim on tilt.
Here's how young, talented pro Faraz Jaka played it in a hand from the World Poker Tour's $15,000-buy-in Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, at Las Vegas' Bellagio in 2009.
With blinds at $1,000-$2,000 plus a $200 ante, the player immediately to the right of Jaka open-raised to $6,500. Jaka, sitting on a big stack like his opponent, flat-called with 9-7 suited.
"That's generally just not a position from which you should be flatting because that's not a strong enough hand," said Jaka, who finished 2009 with almost $2 million in tournament winnings. "But the reason why I did it was because I didn't think he was too good of a player and he had been raising a lot, so I wanted to put some pressure on him.
"Also, I had gotten caught bluffing earlier in the tournament, but he wasn't at the table, so everybody else knew my image except for him."
The flop came Q-J-8, two clubs, giving Jaka a gutshot straight and backdoor straight flush draw.
"I'm not counting on much of that," Jaka said. "I'm just trying to outplay him. He bet out about half the pot, which on that kind of board is a little small. There are a lot of draws out there. I felt like he had an underpair and was making a continuation bet."
Jaka called. The turn came the 4 of diamonds.
"Now he bets out less than half the pot," Jaka said. "He's looking really weak, so I raised about three times his bet because raising turn bets is really, really dangerous for the other player. He's out of position, so not only is he calling this raise, but he has a huge bet coming on the river a lot of the times. It's a pretty big commitment, and there are so many draws out there for me to bluff with.
"He called kind of quick and sort of stared me down. I got a vibe that he was really weak."
The river came the 2 of spades. The initial raiser checked. With nothing, Jaka bet $120,000 into a pot of less than $40,000. His opponent thought for a long time before folding.
Now came the decision to show.
"During the hand, he was upset, cursing, and he had a lot of chips left, so I thought it might be advantageous to show the bluff here in hopes it might help me get his chips in the future," Jaka said. "I showed my hand and he was upset about it.
"Four rounds later, I got quad 3s against him. There was $60,000 or $70,000 in the pot and I bet $120,000, which is the exact bet I bluffed with, and he called, so I think it paid off."
On tilt: To play out of control after a bad decision.
Steve Rosenbloom is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and the author of the book "The Best Hand I Ever Played." He can be reached at