Schedule flexibility and being your own boss are two major advantages to playing poker for a living. However, once you’ve entered a tournament, your control over working hours has ceased, and you’re locked into being there during established hours of play. Sick days are a luxury I have in near-infinite supply, even if that sick day is really just a couch day. But if I’m actually sick and have a tournament to play, I’m out of luck.
On Day Two of the 2012 Borgata Poker Open, I was as sick as I’d been for a day of tournament poker in years. I was up from the table every 10 minutes to unload my face into tissues, and I was frequently leaning behind the table to cough without infecting my tablemates. Even though I found myself at a fairly soft table, my focus was obviously impaired, and I resolved that I’d just play tight and stay out of trouble. But only an hour into the day, I found myself involved in a massive pot.
Earlier, my opponent had been in the big blind, I was on the cutoff, and he had three-bet one of my previous raises and followed through with a bet on the flop, which I folded to. In our big hand, he was again in the big blind with me on the cutoff. I began with just under 100,000 in chips; he had just over 110,000. The blinds were 500-1,000, and with 6s 6d, I raised to 2,100.
The button and the small blind folded, and my opponent reraised to 6,400. I made the call, and the flop was a nearly ideal Qh Jc 6c.
The big blind led out for 7,200, and I decided to raise because (1) we had deep stacks that I wanted to get in the middle, (2) the draw-heavy board meant there were hands I could be bluffing with, and (3) our history together might cause him to think I was just playing back at him. I raised to 18,500, and he called.
The turn was the Jh, giving me a full house. When my opponent checked, I thought about how I wanted to play my hand. I could check behind, since my hand had improved and was unlikely to be sucked out, but that might make getting stacks in the middle difficult. I also thought that since he called my flop raise, it was probably with a hand that had enough showdown value – like A-Q, K-K, A-A or K-Q – to keep calling. Then I considered the best way to make my hand look like a draw.
There was about 50,000 in the pot, and I had about 75,000 remaining in my stack. I thought that since many players use all-in overbets with draws, perhaps I could create the impression of doing the same if I moved all in. I also liked that option because I thought it seemed improbable that I’d try to get value with a big hand that way, and the jack was actually a safe card for my opponent because it completed no draws and made it less likely I was holding Q-J. I decided to go for it and moved all in.
My opponent’s eyes briefly flashed with surprise, then he settled into a contemplative state. I sat wordless and motionless. I figured my opponent almost certainly had one of the strong pairs I had put him on and would likely call. Finally, he placed the necessary chips in the pot and tabled Ac Kh for an ace-high. Not only was he drawing dead, but the fact that he had the Ac meant I couldn’t have been bluffing with an ace-high flush draw.
It just goes to show, sometimes betting more represents.
Tony Dunst is a poker pro and host of “Raw Deal” on World Poker Tour telecasts.