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Picked Off

What is ‘Picked Off’?

Picked off is a term used in poker to describe when a player has their bluff called by another card player in the game and is exposed.

‘Picked Off’ Explained

In poker, when a player plays their cards, their opponent has three choices. They can raise, fold, or call a bet to stay in the game.

If an opponent decides to call out a player then they either have not believed the player’s bluff about the strength of their hand, or the opponent is double bluffing (to encourage the first player to fold).

To be caught out in a bluff is thought to show a lack of skill and reveals something about the way you play cards to the other poker players. So to be ‘picked off’ can be embarrassing, as well as reveal your game strategy.

How to avoid being picked off

If a player bluffs too often in a game then any opponent watching for patterns of play will recognise the play for what it is and either raise or pick them off with a call out.

If a player very rarely bluffs, then a clever opponent will understand that the player is actually bluffing to try and increase the value of the pot. They will therefore only call out if they hold a strong hand, or favourable odds.

By bluffing occasionally, a player hopes to disguise their pattern of play, so that opponents cannot tell when a player is really bluffing or not. The idea is to disguise any poor cards that they are playing with, and to hide any genuine hands where opponents may think the player is bluffing.

Making your patterns of play harder to predict makes it less likely that you will be ‘picked off’ during a game.