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Check-Raising the Devil by Mike Matusow

In the second week of the 2004 Series, I just missed a final table, finishing eleventh in a $2,000 Limit Hold’em event. Daniel Negreanu went on to win that tournament for his third bracelet. What I remember most about that tournament was a hand that came up about eight hours into Day One.

Syracuse Chris” Tsiprailidis had pocket queens, Cecilia Reyes Mortensen was dealt pocket kings, and I looked down at two aces. Not surprisingly, the betting got capped preflop. I really didn’t know what Chris had, but I put Cecilia on kings.

When Q-4-4 flopped, Chris bet out with his full house, queens full of fours, and both Cecilia and I just called. I suspected Chris for the boat at this point, but the size of the pot was sitting on the borderline of being worth a call to try to spike an ace. When the turn came with a king, Chris bet out again and Cecilia flat-called. The pot was huge by then, but I was sure Cecilia had kings and was laying a trap for us both with her kings full.

In a cash game, you still might make a call, but saving a bet in a limit tournament is a lot more important. Although I was almost sure I was beaten, I went in the tank for awhile with my aces, wondering if I could be wrong. If there were two boats against me, they would clearly pay me off if I hit an ace on the river. This one pot would ensure that the winner would go deep in the tournament. I eventually called, hoping for a miracle ace on the river.

Miracles do happen! When that big fat perfect ace hit on the river, Syracuse Chris led out again and Cecilia raised. I reraised. Chris immediately showed his pocket queens to the spectators sitting behind him and folded. Cecilia went into the tank for about three minutes.

“I can’t believe I only called on the turn. I know you have aces. How could I play this so badly?” she moaned.

These were not deep stack tournaments in 2004; saving one bet at this point in a tournament could make a huge difference, but she finally made the call. I showed my aces full, Cecilia showed her kings full, and Chris flipped over his folded queens full.

Everyone at the table went wild when they saw the cards, and tournament players from the other tables came over to stare at the board.

Mike Matusow

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