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‘Buch’s’ Routine Bluff

A lot of heart

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Feb 18, 2011


I have a lot of respect for Shawn “Buch” Buchanan’s game. Buch (pronounced “Buck”) is a world-class no-limit hold’em tournament player, and I have faced off against him many times, including when we played at the final table of the WPT Championship event in 2010. One thing that Buch does well is that he plays very aggressively; he plays tight, but aggressively. I mean, Buch has some heart, as he isn’t afraid to make some big bluffs. So, when he has a big winning hand, he wins a big pot.
In December, Buch landed at my table in the WPT Doyle Brunson Five-Diamond World Poker Classic event at Bellagio, and I witnessed him play the following hand:
With the blinds at 800-1,600 and a 300 ante, Buch opened from middle position for 4,000 with K-J, an opponent called from the small blind, and the player in the big blind was all in for his last 1,200. The flop came down 7♦ 5♦ 5♠. The small blind checked, Buch bet 8,000, and the small blind called. The turn card was another 5 (7-5-5-5). The small blind checked, Buch bet 15,000, the small blind folded, and because there was a player who was all in, Buch rolled over his hand: K-J. The player in the big blind flipped up J-3 offsuit, and proceeded to hit a 3 on the river and win the main pot, which brought a wry smile to Buch’s face.
Let’s take a closer look at this hand. Buch’s opening bet of 2.5 big blinds (4,000) is pretty standard these days. In the old days, we opened for more like 3.0-3.5 times the big blind, but these days, players do not defend in the big blind as often as they did in the past, so why risk 3.0-3.5 big blinds to win the pot before the flop when 2.5 big blinds will get the job done?
Buch stayed in character (aggressive) when he made a c-bet (continuation-bet) of 8,000 on the flop with nothing. I like his flop bet (c-bets are standard these days), as it seems even stronger when considering that there was a player all in.
On the turn, Buch stayed in character again and fired out a bluff of 15,000 with nothing! I love his controlled aggression here. I mean, Buch is a crafty player, and he obviously thought that his bluff would force his opponent to fold, and he was right. Perhaps he had a read on his opponent. Maybe he thought that his opponent was weak and had a flush draw or a straight draw. When you bluff on the flop and on the turn, that is considered a “two-barrel” bluff. I wonder if Buch would have fired the legendary third barrel if his 15,000 bet had been called on the turn. I think not, but I don’t underestimate Buch’s heart! ♠

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