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Playing poker involves skillful and strategic gameplay. Not only does the game or sport require players to have the knowledge of poker, but it also requires them to have deep emotional stability to conquer their players and even themselves whilst on the table. Players should be physically healthy but must also have an innate instinct or learned behaviour that allows them to comprehend even the subtlest nuances of their opponents if they want to bluff or avoid being bluffed.
Professional poker players, over years of playing, can study their opponents and their tactics and even anticipate how these players would react in any given situation. Many of these poker players often have these questions in mind, particularly during head to head play:
- Does my opponent have a big hand?
- What does he think my hand is?
- Will he respond positively if I re-raise?
- Is he bluffing?
Experienced poker players can employ both direct and indirect approaches to elicit answers including talking to the opponent, carefully taking note of his reaction to a turn, or even looking at when he will relax or tense up.
If you want pointers on how you can obtain the greatest poker moments, read on below and learn:
Bluffing All The Way
Newbie poker players may not know the man but Jack “Treetop” Straus registered one of the greatest poker moments in history when he won the 1982 World Series of Poker Main Event when he made the biggest comeback from being down to only one chip early in the tournament. He is known for pulling one of the best bluffs in the history of poker. The 6-foot, 7-inch poker player has aggressive gameplay, often regarded as borderline reckless by some. During the 1982 WSOP Main Event, Straus began playing No-Limit Hold’em, with a 7-2 off suit – a bad starting hand that some professional poker players would immediately fold up but Treetop is no average poker player. He decided to play on and even called for a raise. All of his other opponents folded except for one.
The game ensued and the flop produced 7-3-3, giving Straus a 2 pair. Straus did not expect what happened next. His opponent raised the bet to $5,000 and at that instant, Straus knew he made a huge mistake since he knew his opponent may have a big pair. He could have cut his losses and fold but Straus called the bet. The turn produced a two, giving him a pair. Straus intensified the doubts of the spectators when he over-bet a total of $18,000. Whilst waiting for his opponent to make a move, Straus offered his opponent to show any one of his cards in exchange for a $25 chip.
The opponent gave Straus a $25 chip and chose a card. Straus flipped over the card and exposed the 2, giving the notion that he had a Full House in his hand. His opponent thought that Straus had a pair of two, folded the hand and allowed Straus to win the game. His opponent would still think the same whether he had chosen to show the 7-card so it was indeed a great bluff from Straus.
The Unexpected Championship
Pius Heinz is a professional poker player who hails from Germany. He won the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event, making him the first German player to ever win a WSOP bracelet.
Then 22-year old Pius Heinz had one dream: to covet a WSOP bracelet. During the 2011 WSOP Main Event, Heinz and 6,864 players from 85 different countries were fighting to sport the famed bracelet. The players all went to Penn and Teller Theatre at Rio in Las Vegas in what used to be the third biggest live poker event. Heinz successfully outlasted thousands of players to reach the November Nine and complete his dream of winning a WSOP bracelet.
In a previous interview, Heinz stated that he learned several things whilst playing poker including applying pressure during a bluff, how to get inside the opponent’s mind and cause confusion, and how he can cause an opponent to anticipate what he would do and do the opposite afterward. Heinz successfully used all these skills to earn his seat at the final table.
Among the nine players on the table, Heinz had the 7th lowest chip stack. He was able to face two players for the final table: then the best player and 2011 WSOP Player of the Year title and Marti Staszko. Heinz applied his skills to increase his chip stack and make an unbelievable comeback to win a whopping $8,715,638 in prize money, which at that time was the third-highest payout for a poker champion. Here is how Heinz won:
In the grand finale, Lamb busted out early on when he made a high-risk bluff by making a 4-bet and shoving a K-J off. Staszko went all-in before the flop, whilst holding pocket sevens. Five blanks on the board caused Lamb’s elimination leaving Heinz and Staszko to battle it out. The battle lasted for more than six hours with the chips seesawing between the two poker players. On the ninth swap, Heinz had the chip lead and began pulling away from Staszko by having a 5 to 1 margin. Heinz eventually won the title when Staszko open-shoved a T-7 whilst Heinz had an A-K. Heinz won with an Ace-high hand.
Bringing Poker to Mainstream
For several years, poker has been a household game but it never really went into people’s consciousness not until Chris Moneymaker changed this when he faced off with Sammy Farha during the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.
Moneymaker made poker famous by his win. Moneymaker had Ks and 7h whilst Farha had Qs and 9h for a top pair. Both of the players checked to cause the dealer to reveal the turn of 9s-6s-2d, giving them a flush draw. Farha bet $300,000 and Moneymaker raised to $800,000. Farha called. Dealer exposed the 3h on the river. Farha checked. Moneymaker went all in. The crowd went into shock. Moneymaker knew it would be the end of him if Farha should call. However, Farha eventually folded. If Farha called, his stack could have grown to $7.5 million reducing Moneymaker’s to a merely $850,000. Sadly, Farha received one of the best bluffs ever pulled in poker history.
Jack Straus Back At It
When they say history repeats itself, some may believe it to be true. Such is the case for Jack Straus. During the 1982 WSOP Main Event, Jack Straus made what most poker players do. He shoved all his chips to the centre of the table. The difference was that he never said: “all in.” So when his opponent called and they had to expose their cards, Straus lost. Or so he thought.
When he was about to leave, Straus grabbed his coat and saw a single $500 chip hiding underneath a napkin. Since he did not announce that he would go all in, he was actually allowed to continue playing with a single $500 chip. With only one chip, he gradually increased his stack one round after another until he secured a seat at the final table against Dewey Tomko. At the final hand, both players shoved their chips at the centre of the table. Tomko had A-4 whilst Straus had A-10. The flop revealed a 4, giving Tomko a pair of fours. The turn exposed Qc and the river surfaced a 10s, causing Straus to win the $520,000 first prize.
A Fruitful R&R
Gregory Brooks is a widely known poker player. One of his most notable wins was during his vacation trip to the west coast. Brooks decided, on a whim, to join other hopefuls at the 2011 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic at the Classic Commerce Casino.
Brooks successfully secured a seat at the LAPC Main Event final table as the least experienced player at the table included some big names in poker including three-time WPT winner Carlos Mortensen, WPT long-time player Vivek Rajkumar. Brooks, though inexperienced compared with other players, easily amassed a huge stack and eventually faced the more experienced Rajkumar. The two battled for 34 hands, with Brooks practicing aggressiveness that epitomized his gameplay from the start of the WPT. Since Brooks was noted to never fold, Rajkumar tried to intimidate the inexperienced player by bluffing numerous times. However, this allowed Brooks to have a 4 to 1 margin chip lead. During the final hand, Rajkumar shoved all his chips win only a J-T on his hand. Brooks, holding a 2-8 top pair, called and won the tournament.