The best call ever shown in televised poker? [Editorial]

The best call ever shown in televised poker? [Editorial]

Monday, 13 June 2011

In prior Editorials, I’ve presented the most disciplined folds and outrageous bluffs to have ever been shown on television in high stakes cash games and tournaments alike. Now to the counter – it’s painful when you’re snap called after mustering up the stones to fire that third barrel and bluff for all your chips with a busted gutshot; more painful still when you’re shown just bottom pair.

Mansour Matloubi was once playing a high stakes cash game with Stu Ungar when he moved all-in on the river of a 2-6-8-Q-A board holding 5-4 for a straight draw that missed. Ungar called him with T-9 and his ten high took the five-figure pot. Matloubi said afterwards: “when a man makes a call like that against you, that’s it.”

It’s one of the most legendary stories in poker history and that’s because a good call is really awesome. When you can call with a hand that can literally only beat a bluff – and in some cases, not even beat most bluffs – it shows that you have truly gotten into your opponent’s head and know exactly what he’s thinking at all times. It’s a truly scary proposition and in many ways better than 3-bet bluffing with six-high and showing it down.

One of the calls that I haven’t elected as my best but holds a dear place in my heart is Allen Cunningham’s call of Jamie Gold at the final table of the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event where a $12,000,000 first prize and poker immortality awaited one of the six players left in contention. Cunningham was the seasoned pro of the table, Gold the brash upstart with all the chips and it showed in this hand:

I apologise for the severely tilt-inducing Phils Hellmuth and Gordon commentary combo but that’s what we have to endure to watch that call. I always loved it because it was one of the first big calls I ever saw; in fact this might be the first time I ever realised you can call with ace high. Thus began years of never folding on the river with ace high or better. Damn you, Cunningham!

In my impending article for Bluff Europe, I didn’t make that my number one though. That honour belongs to Lex Veldhuis (and in fact, while we’re at it, watch this for another great Veldhuis call). Don’t bluff the guy in red. My top call goes to Veldhuis for an incredible show against Daniel Negreanu in the PokerStars Big Game:

OK, so we raise it up pre-flop with king-eight suited which is fine and Daniel Negreanu calls. OK, so does the fish in the big blind. Right... flop is A-6-J with a flush draw and there’s two checks to me so I should continuation bet... Negreanu raises. Hmm, he’s been playing online 6-max recently so I guess he’s just bluffing all the time. OK, I’ll float and take it away on the turn.

Actually, I’m just gonna check behind on the turn.

Ah, river makes a flush draw and it’s a paired board. He bets one-third pot. That looks bluffy – of course it could be looking bluffy because it’s for value and he wants me to think it looks bluffy or maybe it’s a bluff and he wants me to think it’s for value because it looks so bluffy... wait a second I have king high, any normal person would have folded by now but you know what us Dutch are like! I call!

Tags: Editorial, Matt Perry, Stu Ungar, Lex Veldhuis, Daniel Negreanu, Allen Cunningham, Jamie Gold, WSOP