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Poker : Pretty Lady Bailout

It seems the whole world is talking about bailouts. Well, here's my bailout story.

At the recent World Poker Tour Championships in Las Vegas, I got lucky and hit an ace on the river to propel me into Day Three. And with only twenty minutes remaining to play on that day, I finally got involved in an enormous pot.

With the blinds at $3,000/$6,000, pro player JJ Liu, sitting immediately to my right, opened for $18,000, and I just called with a premium hand pocket queens. The player on the button called, and then another pro, Andrew Lichtenberger, made it $50,000 more to go from the big blind.

JJ folded, I smooth called again, and the button folded.

The flop came 6-5-4. This time, Andrew tossed in $75,000 and I called.

The turn card was a jack and Andrew moved all-in for $161,000. It was a critical decision for me. With only $172,000 chips in front of me, I knew that a bad call would place my tournament life at risk.

I deliberated for a while before finally making the call.

Andrew turned over K-K. Ouch. But before I even had a chance to utter a single word, the dealer burned and turned a beautiful lady. Bam! What a card for me!

So, how did I play this hand?

I smooth called JJ's $18,000 raise for two reasons. I wanted to induce the loose and aggressive player on the button to enter the pot, or even reraise. Also, I felt that disguising my power in this situation was the best play against JJ, who I had covered.

I love the $50,000 raise by Lichtenberger in the big blind. The raise wasn't quite pot-sized but that's why it was so perfect. Why purposefully drive everyone else out of the pot when you're seemingly in control of the hand?

My $50,000 call was standard. Had I had some sort of sick read on Andrew, maybe I could have folded, but obviously, in this case, I didn't.

Lichtenberger's $75,000 bet on the flop was right on the money. An all-in move probably would have convinced me to fold my hand, and he certainly didn't want me to lay down a big hand like pocket queens, jacks, or tens in this spot. He could have checked but that would have given me the chance to hit a free card to beat him.

Bottom line: Lichtenberger's $75,000 bet protected his hand yet didn't scare me away from calling with Q-Q.

On the turn, Lichtenberger's $161,000 all-in bet was perfect. My call, however, was a little weak but still borderline acceptable.

Look, there are a lot of crazy internet players out there that constantly make wild and unsubstantiated bluffs. That's why I just called all the way through this hand -- I was trapping, baby!

I knew there were a range of hands that I could beat that Lichtenberger would naturally bet, hands like pocket tens, nines, eights, sevens, treys, deuces, or A-K, A-Q, A-rag, or even 8-7, 8-6 and 5-4. It would have been great to pick up an amazing read on Andrew. Had that been the case, I would have realized that I was beat and gotten away from my pocket queens.

Too bad I only brought my B-Game to the WPT Championships this time around.

It's always pretty cool to hit a card on the river, especially when you're lucky enough to do it two days in a row. But good fortune doesn't last forever. Next week, I'll discuss another hand from the WPT Championships where I was a bit unlucky and should have known better than to commit so many chips to the pot.


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