I've got nothing but respect for Shawn "Buch" Buchanan's game.
Buch – pronounced "buck" just like the hundreds of thousands of them that he's won — is a world-class no limit hold'em tournament player hailing from Canada. We've faced off against each other many times including the final table of the World Poker Tour Championship event in 2010.
One thing about Buch is that he's both a tight and super-aggressive player. Also, the man is truly courageous at the poker table; he isn't afraid to run some big bluffs. And when this man has a big hand, you can be sure that he's going to win a huge pot!
In December, 2010, Buch landed at my table at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic event held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. That's when I saw him play the following hand.
With the blinds at $800/$1,600 plus a $300 per man ante, Buch opened in middle position for $4,000 with K-J. An opponent in the small blind called, and then the player in the big blind called all-in for his last $1,200.
The flop came down 7d-5d-5s with the main pot worth $6,000 and a side pot worth $5,800.
The small blind checked and then Buch bet out $8,000 and got a call. The turn card was another five. Once again, the small blind checked. This time Buch fired out $15,000. Bingo! That bet was big enough to get his side pot opponent to fold.
Since the main pot action was still live, Buch had to roll over his K-J hand. Well, the big blind flipped up his awful J-3 offsuit, and, you guessed it, proceeded to hit a three on the river to win the $6,000 main pot.
That little trey on the river brought a wry smile to Buch's face!
Let's take a closer look at this hand.
Buch's opening bet of 2 1/2 times the big blind is standard these days. In the not so distant past, skilled players would open-raise for about 3 to 3 1/2 times the big blind, but that went out of style because players today do not defend their big blinds as often as they did in the past. They figure, why risk three big blinds to win the pot pre-flop when a smaller bet will get the job done just about as often?
Getting back to the hand, Buch showed sheer aggression by throwing in a 5 times the blind bet continuation bet on the flop – with nothing! Now, I happen to like this big bet
on the flop. C-bets are pretty standard these days and Buch's c-bet seemed even stronger considering there was already a player all-in.
True to form, Buch stayed in character on the turn, this time firing out a huge 10 times the big blind bluff with nothing! I absolutely love his controlled aggression in this spot!
Let's face it, Buch is a smart and crafty player who obviously thought his bluff would force his opponent to fold his hand — and he was right.
Now, I'm guessing that Buch probably had a decent read on his opponent. He might have thought that his foe was weak – likely playing to a flush draw, a straight draw, or maybe a small pair, like fours or threes. In any event, it was a great play.
Bluffing on the flop and the turn is known as a two barrel bluff. I wonder if Buch would have fired the legendary third barrel had his $15,000 bet been called. I don't think so but you never know.
What I do know is that you'd be a fool to underestimate the size of Shawn Buchanan's heart!