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Deep-Stack Bluff in Holiday Game

Very entertaining!

by Phil Hellmuth |  Published: Mar 04, 2011


Here is an entertaining hand that came up in the 18-hour marathon holiday poker game that I play in every year in Wisconsin. It was a $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em game with $5-$10 blinds, and each player started with at least $2,000 in chips in front of him; we were allowed to put three $1,000 chips in our pockets. The fact that all of the players started with at least $2,000 in chips, combined with the $5-$10 blinds, meant that each player started with at least 200 big blinds, and that is a deep-stack poker game!

About 12 hours into the game, with a live $20 straddle on, Jon Ferraro limped in for $20 with the Q♣ 10♣, and three other players called, including Jon Green from the small blind.

The flop was Q♥ 10♠ 6♦, Green checked, another player checked, and Ferraro bet $120. Everyone folded before Green and the player in the big blind called.

The turn card was an 8; Ferraro bet $450, Green called, and the player in the big blind called.

The river was a 3, and both players

checked to Ferraro, who bet $500. Green then check-raised to $2,200 to go, the player in the big blind folded, and Ferraro began to squirm in his chair.

After about 30 seconds, Ferraro said to Green, “J-9, huh? You have to have J-9!” Green said nothing, and continued to sit very still in his chair. After another 60 seconds, Green flipped a jack faceup from his holecards, and Ferraro began to squirm even more.

Ferraro then flipped up Q-10 — top two pair. After another 30 seconds, he told Green, “Give me $1,000 back from the pot and I will fold.”

As quickly as a startled rabbit springs forth, Green said, “Done!” Then, in one quick motion, Green grabbed the large pot, flipped his K-J bluff faceup, and tossed two $500 chips to Ferraro.

Ferraro exclaimed, “I should have known that you were bluffing! Otherwise, why would you have shown me a jack?”

Let’s take a closer look at this hand. First, a little background: Green had been playing extremely tight for the previous six hours, and in any case, it is not Green’s style to fire out huge bluffs on the river. I thought that Green had the J-9, and I was almost expecting him to raise on the turn when Ferraro bet $450. Of course, looking back, Green almost always raises on the turn when he has the nuts, in order to protect his hand. Thus, since Green didn’t raise, he couldn’t have had J-9.

Another possibility was that Green had a set. If he had a set, perhaps he wouldn’t raise on the turn because all three players had at least $6,000 in front of them, and why stick $6,000 into the pot when someone else could have a straight and he’d be a 3.5-1 underdog to win the pot? Following this line of thinking, on the river, it looked like a set was good when Ferraro bet only $500, so Green could have raised at that point with a set.

I like the fact that Green showed one card (the jack), because he has done that in the past to try to confuse his opponents when he did have the goods. If Ferraro had already made up his mind to fold, I love his offer to take back $1,000 to fold his hand. Brilliant! I am not in love with the play that Green made in accepting Ferraro’s offer, although it did lock in some profit for him. It seemed to me that Ferraro was going to fold his hand in a minute, but to be fair, Ferraro did pay off some big bets later with weaker holdings, so perhaps Green did make the right move. ♠

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