WSOP Bluff and Double-up

My last article, WSOP Blues, talked about my slow demise in the Main Event from 35th in chips after Day 2 to busting out on Day 4 before the money. This month my article will look at some of the brighter spots from Day 1.

The Bluff

Every year in the main event there is usually a hand or two where I may get a little too creative, get myself in trouble, and then either make a play that looks brilliant or donk off a lot of chips. The following hand was a little creative and a little lucky at the same time.

First, a little background. I was quite card dead having never been dealt a pocket pair above 99 the entire day. In addition, I had a relatively tough table, especially for Day 1 with several top pros sitting on both my left and right. The combination of the two resulted in me playing relatively tight while playing a very straight-forward game up until this point. We’re in the 4th level after dinner break.

A very good player in early middle position raised. The next player, Joshua Tieman, a WSOP bracelet winner and high stakes players, called. I called in the cutoff with 8c 7c. The flop was Ah 9h 9x. The initial raiser bet 1,100, Joshua called, and of course I raised to 3,700 with my powerful backdoor straight draw. The initial raiser folded and Joshua called.

My primary thinking here is that unless one of my opponents had AA or a 9 in their hand, I would be able to get them to fold any A-x hand on either the flop or turn given my tight image. The initial raiser in fact might fold A-x on the flop given my raise against a bettor and a caller. Once Joshua calls, I really think he either has trips or a flush draw. I felt confident at the time that he probably knew I wouldn’t raise in this spot with a hand like A-Q so he likely wasn’t calling with an A-x hand.

I was planning on making a substantial bet on the turn of any non-heart board. Unfortunately, the poker gods didn’t follow my plan and a small heart fell on the turn. We both checked as I pretty much gave up on the hand as I thought it would be difficult to get Joshua to fold a flush or trips at this point. Then, the poker gods decided to mix it up a bit and put an ace on the river. Joshua checked and had about 10,000 remaining in his stack. There was about 11,000 in the pot.

Well, if I want to win the pot I obviously have to bet. Joshua would obviously have a hard time calling with a flush.

The question is how much to bet. I decided the best way to look strong was to put in a weakish looking bet that looks like it wants a call. At the same time, a smallish bet compared to the size of the pot will still represent a hefty chunk of his stack. I bet 4,100 hoping for a quick fold. Unfortunately, Joshua went into the tank for several minutes making me sweat it out. I suspect that he really doubted I would raise the flop with A-x, but at the same time, he probably had a hard time figuring out what I was holding. Would I raise with total air on the flop? That would be a great read given how I was playing that day. My most likely hand is 9-x. I raise the flop with trips, check the flush card on the turn, and make a small value bet on the river with my boat. But he sure thought it through a lot. If he had a flush, then he really had a good read on me thinking that long and just was unable to pull the trigger. If he folded 9-x himself, then my image must have really worked in my favor.

I normally don’t show my hands, but I decided to show to put out a little different image to hopefully capitalize on later as I was still planning on playing a relatively tight game, despite that one hand. And it’s possible that this hand helped me out a little on my double-up hand.

The Double-Up

We only have four hands left to play on Day 1. I have roughly 45,000 in chips, which was about average. I was pretty happy with my stack at this point as I had chipped up with practically no premium starting hands all day.

Robert Mizrachi raises in early position with a monster stack. There are two callers and I call in the big blind with K-Ts. The flop is K-K-3. I bet 2K and Mizrachi calls. Crap! What am I going to do now?! I don’t want to lose 10K on one of the last hands of the night! I pretty much don’t see Mizrachi calling in this spot with a hand that doesn’t beat me. And then…

Boom! A T falls on the turn. I bet 6,000 and Mizrachi calls. He is in trouble and I pray for small cards. The river is a 7. I bet 11K, he raises to 27k, and I go all-in. He calls with 33. I’m not sure if he overplayed his hand on the river, but I would have folded K-J in this spot and probably K-Q. I would also never 3-bet the river without a boat. The poker gods were on my side that day by sending me a key turn card on my double-up and a key river card to set up the bluff.

I was on a WSOP high, but the WSOP blues were only a few days away.