It's NBA playoff time again and that reminded me of a hand Los Angeles Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss played on Poker After Dark a couple of seasons ago. PAD is unique because nearly every hand dealt is shown on air with the viewing audience often getting treated to some pretty skillful play.
But not in this particular hand.
Starting with six players, and with the blinds at $400/$800, Daniel Negreanu raised it up to $800 to go with the 4c-3c from the first position.
Mike “The Mouth” Matusow folded, comedian, actor and poker player Gabe Kaplan called with 4d-3d, pro player David Grey folded A-Q on the button, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson folded K-4, and Dr. Jerry Buss, a well-regarded amateur player, called with 8-7 from the big blind.
The flop came Qh-5d-2h and Negreanu, Kaplan and Buss all checked.
The 6s hit on the turn and Dr. Buss bet out $800 with his open-ended straight draw. Daniel raised it to $2,300 to go with his made straight. Gabe, who clearly wasn't expecting to see a raise from Daniel — and even told Daniel he was surprised to see him raise then reraised the pot to $6,700 with his identical six-high straight.
Dr. Buss folded, Daniel moved all-in, and Gabe called. Of course, it ended in a split pot, with each player disappointed in that outcome.
David Grey correctly realized that he probably would have gone broke had he decided to play his A-Q hand, while Dr. Buss was left wondering whether he might have folded the winning hand as either a four or a nine on the river would have made him the winning straight.
What the heck happened in this hand?
I don't mind Daniel's $800 raise or Gabe's $800 call although each play was somewhat loose. Here's the important question: What was David Grey thinking when he folded A-Q on the button?
He should have reraised in that spot. The fact that Daniel is known for playing a ton of hands makes a reraise even more compelling. Also, the fact that Gabe just called Daniel's pre-flop bet should have sent a strong signal to Grey to reraise.
A pot-sized reraise of about $3,000 would have been the correct play and almost certainly would have won the pot for Grey right there.
Look, you've got to understand the mindset of your opponents when you sit down to play them in a winner-take-all tournament like PAD. Neither Daniel nor any other player would want to call a big raise with a weak hand so early in this kind of TV tournament.
I don't mind Dr. Buss' bet on the turn. He hadn't made many bets in this game until this point so it was a welcome change to see a bit more aggression on his part. By the way, this type of bet is known as a semi-bluff — a bet that is made on a drawing hand and it was a creative play for an amateur like Dr. Jerry Buss.
I like both Daniel's raise and Gabe's reraise but I absolutely don't like the fact that Gabe opened his mouth to say something to Daniel about his raise. Daniel is too smart for that. Gabe's yapping ended up giving away more information about his hand than he needed to.
That's a valuable lesson for all amateur poker players. When going up against the stronger players at your table, keep your mouth shut and your poker face intact in order to limit the tells you might otherwise reveal with your words and actions.