“Hollywooding” is a piece of poker slang that’s all about acting. Since poker is a game of information, we always want to be picking up as much information about our opponents as we can while simultaneously denying them information about us. If they have a hard time getting a good read on us, then it makes it that much more difficult for them to play against us.
Just like tells give away information about a player’s hand, Hollywooding attempts to disguise it. It’s a reverse tell. We want to look weak when we’re strong, and we want to appear strong when we’re weak. That way our opponents will misjudge our position, make the wrong move, and ship the chips our way.
Let’s go over how and when to pull off an act at the table.
Especially when playing against maniacs who love to bomb the pot, get splashy, and run big bluffs, Hollywooding can be a great tactic. Since they love betting with junky hands, we want to nudge them in that direction so that we can pounce with a stronger range.
If you’re holding a strong hand and someone is firing into you, don’t just smile and snap off the call. Take a minute to hum and haw over it. Make it look like you’ve got a close decision. Not only will this show “weakness” that will encourage your opponent to keep betting in this hand, but it also encourages them to keep betting against you in the future.
Since it looks like their bluffs are having the desired effect, they’ll think it’s a good play and be more inclined to run it back next time. Hollywooding prevents them from realizing that you have their number and will keep the chips flowing.
Of course, the other crucial time when you need to play off an act is when making a
bluff. Since you don’t have anything, and you’re trying to sell the story that you’ve got a strong made hand, it’s time to take a lesson from Brad Pitt.
Exude confidence, but don’t overdo it so that it’s obvious that you’re acting. Your whole goal here is to get a better hand to fold, so look for a spot when the board has a good runout for your range.
This tactic is even more effect when playing against nits, or tight-passive players. These players will rarely stand up to big bets if they don’t have a good hand, unless you give off tells and fail to sell the bluff. That’s why Hollywooding is so crucial in this situation.
One last word here: whatever you do, don’t be a jerk. It’s one thing to act and be deceptive and another thing to be rude or unpleasant. Especially if you want to get invited back to the game, always remember to be a nice person.