While most of your profit in soft or small buy-in tournaments will come from getting full value from your strong hands, occasionally you will need to run a well-timed bluff. I played a hand in the recent $1,000 buy-in WPT side event at Borgata that illustrates this point.
Over the course of six hours of play, I noticed a lady sitting directly to my right constantly raise whenever anyone limped. She raised every time someone limped. I have never seen anything like it! Her opponents would limp, she would raise, and they would either call or fold. When they called, they would usually fold to her obviously automatic flop continuation bet. She also 3-bet a bit more often before the flop compared to a reasonably straightforward player. Once I pinpointed these tendencies, I decided that I was going to attack her whenever I thought she was out of line.
Eventually, a fairly generic player with 30,000 raised to 1,200 at 200/400-50 from middle position. The lady 3-bet to 3,000 out of her 40,000 stack from the cutoff. I looked down to see the mediocreon the button.
Leading up to this hand, I had been reasonably in line, showing down only one bluff over the course of six hours of play. I also had not messed around with the lady too much. I thought my opponents would almost certainly fold all non-premium hands if I 4-bet, assuming they would think I must have the nuts.
So, I decided to 4-bet to 6,500 out of my 84,000 stack.
I used a fairly small bet size so that I could easily fold if either of my opponents decided to 5-bet. I also did not mind if the lady called 3,500 more because I would be in position, resulting in me frequently winning on the flop with a continuation bet. Notice if I 4-bet larger and any of my opponents continued, I would usually be against a premium hand that I am drawing thin against. You will find that using small bets to apply multiple streets of pressure is usually better than using large bets to apply only one street of pressure.
The initial raiser thought for over three minutes before folding. The lady instantly folded, giving me the 5,200 chip pot with no contest. Of course, her quick fold means she either had rubbish, thought I had a premium hand, or both. After she folded, the initial raiser said he folded A-K. He said he was certain I had either A-A or K-K. Of course, I told him that he made a good fold. When you successfully run a bluff, you almost never want to let your opponents know that you are capable of getting out of line with junk. You want your opponents to fold A-K before the flop for as long as possible.
Once you pinpoint a tendency that is easily exploitable, do not be afraid to get well out of line to exploit it. I continued to take advantage of this situation for the rest of the day, raising and reraising when I thought the lady was abusing the weak players to her right. Instead of folding when she applied pressure, as almost everyone else at the table did, I managed to win more than my fair share of pots and ended the day as the chip leader at my table.