Player’s mis­di­rec­tion sows con­fu­sion

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - POKER - By Chad Hol­loway

In early Fe­bru­ary, I watched an in­ter­est­ing yet seem­ingly in­con­se­quen­tial poker hand play out dur­ing t he $1,100- buy- i n, $500,000 guar­an­teed Mid-States Poker Tour Poker Bowl II at the Vene­tian in Las Ve­gas.

On Day 1A of the tour­na­ment, which be­gan with 268 en­tries, the field was down to 60 play­ers in Level 12 (800-1,600 blinds with an ante of 200) when Maury Solano of Texas, who was sit­ting with 49,000 in chips, raised to 3,500 from the hi­jack seat.

Min­ne­sota busi­ness­man John Mor­gan, who had a stack of roughly the same size, called from the cut­off seat, and an un­known player in the small blind did the same. The big-stacked Ankush Flop: Man­davia, who fin­ished run­nerup and earned $108,000 in the same tour­na­ment a year ear­lier, came along from the big blind to make it four-way ac­tion. The flop came down 5h 10h 10c. Three checks opened the door for Mor­gan to bet 4,500, and the player in the small blind called. Man­davia flat-called, and Solano put in a call to see the turn, which was the 8d. Turn:

It was at this point that things got in­ter­est­ing.

The player in the small blind checked, and Man­davia opted to bet 10,500. As I watched the hand play out, I couldn’t help but won­der why Man­davia had just called the flop and then lead out on the turn.

My first thought was that he had a 10, but why just call pre­flop with trips when there was a flush draw on board? Maybe Man­davia wanted to peel one more card to make sure it wasn’t an­other heart be­fore spring­ing to life. This was a very real pos­si­bil­ity, but not the only one.

I also thought it would be a bril­liant play if he had a heart draw. As­sum­ing he had two hearts and just called the flop, the turn (which wasn’t a scary card) pro­vided him an op­por­tu­nity to seize con­trol of the hand.

With a bet, he turns his heart draw into a semi-bluff, and a highly be­liev­able one given the cir­cum­stances. With three oth­ers play­ers in the hand, it would be im­pos­si­ble for all of them to have a 10. Solano surely didn’t, as he was last to act and just called, but the other two might.

By bet­ting, Man­davia could test the wa­ters. If he was raised, he would all but know his op­po­nent had a 10. If he re­ceived a call, it would prob­a­bly be from an­other flush draw, in which case he could eas­ily bluff the river. Or every­one would fold and he’d win the pot un­con­tested, which was ex­actly what hap­pened.

Dur­ing a break, I asked Man­davia about the hand. Did he have a 10? A flush draw? He let slip a lit­tle smile, and for a mo­ment I didn’t think he was go­ing to an­swer, but then he said, “I had a 10.”

I think he was telling the truth. But then again, it’s poker, so it’s pos­si­ble that he was bluff­ing me.

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