Earlier this month, on Day Two of the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star tournament, I played a great hand against one of the world's best professional poker players, JC Tran. A little history, though, before we get to the cards.
JC had been calling my raises repeatedly and was taking every flop against me. I knew he was reading me well – so well, in fact, that it seemed he was actually taking advantage of me. Wow, that's a rare experience, having an opponent play me and not the cards.
I didn't like it. I warned JC that I would be a huge favorite when we ended up putting the big money in the middle against each other. I figured he would play some hand like 9-8 suited and get himself in a world of trouble.
Okay, so here's the hand.
With blinds at $600/$1,200 plus a $200 ante, I opened for $3,200 in early position with Ad-3d. Not surprisingly, JC made the call. That's when I decided to flip the script on him.
If, indeed, JC was closely watching my bets on the flop, trying to gain information about the strength of my hand, then I would respond by betting in the dark with what I call the Blind C bet – the C meaning continuation. This move would allow me to read JC like he had been reading me.
So I fired out $7,000 in the dark and focused my mental energy on JC's reaction to the flop and the way he put his chips into the pot.The flop came 10d-9d-4s and JC moved me all-in for around $60,000. I quickly called.
Feeling like a winner, JC called over tournament director Matt Savage and said, “Get that $5,000 bounty ready, the money I get for busting Phil Hellmuth!”
He flipped over Kd-Qd and I showed my Ad-3d. I was about 70% to win the poker pot. Better not hand over the money just yet, Matt.
The turn card was an ace so Tran was now drawing to any jack – just four outs for him to win the pot. Fortunately, the 7s came on the river. Before the day was over, I had the chip lead with $530,000 in chips.
As it turned out, JC actually played his hand by the book. But what about my $7,000 Blind C bet on the flop?
For the record, JC did have a solid read on me when I was weak; I just couldn't figure out how to overcome that advantage. I tried changing my betting pattern. I'd been betting on the flop when I was weak but JC kept raising it up, forcing me to fold my trash hands.
Now, it is possible that JC might have had a real hand every time he raised, but even if he did, I simply wasn't going to tolerate his routine any longer. I knew that I had to show him a real hand soon but it was just taking too long to find a hand I could play.
So I improvised.
I decided to bet before I saw the flop so I could focus my perceptive powers on JC Tran and not on the cards on the board. I wanted to catch him when he raised my initial bet on the flop with a weak holding, or induce him to fold his weak hand on the flop because he couldn't get a good read on me.
No matter what, I can confidently state this: I was ready to go to war against JC when I made that Blind C bet. Any sign of weakness from him and I was all-in, baby!