In late March I attended the World Poker Tour’s Canadian Spring Championship at the Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake, Quebec, just outside of Montreal.
The moment I got off the plane, I realized that Canadians have loose definition of “spring”; it was 30 degrees outside, and the ground was covered in mounds of snow.
I knew immediately that it would be a trip spent almost entirely within the casino. But I needed to win some chips in the tournament if I was going to keep myself occupied and out of the cold.
The tournament had a buy-in of $1,100 (in Canadian dollars) and a guaranteed prize pool of $1 million.
I was attending and playing the event because we were broadcasting an online stream for the final table – the first time we’d done so for a WPT national event.
While the event’s guaranteed prize pool attracted plenty of players, many professionals didn’t bother to come because of the smaller buy-in. So when I found myself near the top of the leader board with 130 players left, I looked around at a room full of unfamiliar faces.
We were approaching the bubble; 126 players would be paid, four would go home with nothing, and the winner would receive $178,000.
The blinds were 4,000-8,000 and I had about 450,000 in front of me.
A young and aggressive player across the table had nearly that much, and when action folded to him in middle position, he raised to 16,000. I had seen him raise some very weak hands from that position, so when it folded to me in the small blind with Qh 8h, I reraised to 46,000, aiming to take it down preflop. Instead, after the big blind folded, the young player quickly called.
The flop came Ks 7h 2c. I bet 40,000 as a bluff, intending to bet again on hearts and give up on other cards.
My opponent called, and the turn brought the 9h.
I bet again, hoping he would fold any middle pairs that were willing to only call one bet. But he called again, and I missed my draw when the river came 5s.
I considered the merits of betting a third time. If my opponent had ace-king, he likely would have reraised preflop, so I discounted that as one of his possible hands.
He could have king-queen, but my having a queen made that less probable.
He could have king-jack or king-ten, but those hands just might fold to a big bet.
I decided to fire one more time, betting 150,000.
My opponent went into the tank for as long as I can remember anyone tanking on me.
After five minutes in silence, he began talking, saying that he was thinking about folding ace-king.
I didn’t particularly believe him, but I intended to sit motionless and say nothing either way.
After finally talking himself into a fold, my opponent slid his cards toward the muck.
“Show the bluff! Show the bluff!” players around the table called out.
“Sorry, I can’t do that this time,” I replied.
Tony Dunst is a poker pro and host of “Raw Deal” on World Poker Tour telecasts. Catch him every Sunday night on FSN.