Is this the best bluff ever televised? [Monday Editorial]

Is this the best bluff ever televised? [Monday Editorial]

Monday, 14 March 2011

The latest episode of High Stakes Poker (Norm good, line-up not so much) got me hankering for the old days of watching Phil Ivey and Tom “durrrr” Dwan do battle across the felt at The Golden Nugget instead of seeing Barry Greenstein go fishing. Looking at some random videos, I stumbled across a list on Two Plus Two forums’ televised poker section of the Top Ten TV Bluffs.

Expecting Phil Ivey and Paul Jackson (you know, THAT hand) to be taking the top spot I was pleasantly surprised to see that at number two. Not so surprising was the way that Tom “durrrr” Dwan dominated the list with his infamous triple-barrel for $650,000+ against Ivey; his 7-2o shove against Sammy George and his forcing JC Tran to lay down a full house all making an appearance.

The hand, however, that got the most attention and thus the top spot on the list was one I’m sure you’ve all seen. If not, then let me enlighten you:

This hand is a stellar example of both hand-reading and cajones as durrrr makes spot-on reads that his opponents have him crushed. He then thinks “sod it, I can get them to fold.” Usually, when you read your opponents for an overpair and trips, you get the hell out of the way and prepare for fireworks. Dwan ran in, stole the fireworks and shoved them down everyone’s trousers.

Dwan realised on the flop that because he had a ten in his hand, no one was likely to have T-T. This meant that he could represent a flopped full house, hence why he raised Greenstein’s fairly obvious overpair. Eastgate threw a spanner into the works by cold-calling but Dwan correctly assessed that Eastgate could fold trips. Despite knowing that he faced three-of-a-kind and aces or kings, durrrr continued his bluff and represented pocket tens perfectly to take down the pot with the worst hand and immortalise himself in televised poker history with the best bluff we’ve ever seen.

As if to silence his doubters and absolutely prove that this was NOT just a random show of aggressive betting that got lucky against a passive opponent, the post-hand conversation established that Dwan knew exactly what he was doing (not, as some misguided YouTube commenters think, making terrible value bets with top pair). As Dwan rakes in the pot, Eli Elezra says “well, Barry folded the best hand” and Daniel Negreanu chimes in with a loud “duh!”

Not duh, but durrrr – Dwan just pointed at Eastgate, who at this point had a hint of murder in his eyes (seriously, look at 04.29 in that video and tell me he isn’t imagining blood and death) and said “no, [Peter] folded the best hand” and followed up by saying he would make a side bet that Eastgate had the best hand. He then did, winning $9,000 from Doyle Brunson when Eastgate admitted he folded trip deuces. That should cover his next pre-flop 3-bet.

That’s all well and good, in fact is probably is the best bluff on TV simply due to the fact that the bluffer in this case knew that his victim was so strong but still proceeded in a levelling war of aggression. However, one of my favourites ever since I began watching poker has been Isaac Haxton 3-bet bluffing the river with three-high against Ryan Daut:

Daut deserves credit himself here for making that river raise but Haxton gets some major props. At this stage Haxton is a big-time NL heads-up grinder online taking his skills to the live arena for the first time. This is his first tournament cash; his first final table and he’s heads-up for $1.535m. He’s on TV and has less chips, meaning that if he’s called, he’s through. That kind of bluff takes some serious stones – when you bluff at a river and get raised, you tend to think about folding. You can even see in the video that as soon as Daut raises, Haxton knows something is up.

Of course, we’d be talking about the sickest call of all time if Daut had won the tournament by calling it off with seven high.

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