Inside their heads

Updated: February 21, 2008, 2:52 PM ET
By BLUFF | Kenny Tran

Going into the HORSE final table, I had very high expectations. I really wanted to finish strong -- in the top three. Most of the players didn't know much about me and thought I was primarily a no-limit player. They weren't aware that I play mixed games very frequently and consider myself a threat in all of the games in HORSE. The only game that was new to me was razz, and it doesn't take any genius to play that game. My opponents didn't know that I played these games so well, and that was fine that they underestimated me.

The hand in question is one in which I called with jack high during the limit hold 'em stage. Let me walk you through it from the beginning.

I was in the small blind and Bruno Fitoussi was sitting in the big blind. Amnon Filippi raised before the flop. I called with Js-9s and Fitoussi called as well. The flop was 2-5-6, with two spades. In a situation like this, I wanted to lead out because I didn't think that flop hit Amnon since he had raised before the flop.

I led out, hoping to take the pot right there, but Fitoussi instantly called me. By doing so, he told me right away that he didn't have a made hand and was drawing. Fillipi folded as expected. The turn was an ace. I led out again, and I noticed Bruno hesitated to call me -- it actually looked like he wanted to give up his hand.

For some reason, he changed his mind midway through the thought process. At that point I thought he had no pair, because to my knowledge, in limit hold 'em, if you flop a pair and a straight draw -- say 4-5, 4-6, 3-3, 4-4 -- you would raise the flop, because you wouldn't want someone with A-K or A-Q to spike an overcard. To me, it really looked like he was on a draw and hoping to win a big pot by hitting it.

The river, the 3h, missed all draws, and normally I would bet here believing my jack high was the best hand. I decided to give him a chance to make a mistake by betting, which he did. Knowing his aggressive style, this was the right decision. I am not checking in that spot to fold my hand. Instead, I am checking to induce a bluff.

When he bet, I knew I had to call. However, in that spot, there was a lot of pressure. It was the final table of the $50,000 HORSE tournament, and no matter how well you can read another player, it's hard to call in this spot with only jack high. When Bruno bet, I noticed that he looked too confident. In poker, you don't look like Michael Jackson when you have the nuts -- you just aren't that smooth. That was also telling me something was wrong and that he was very weak. I made the call and I was so excited that it was the right call after Fitoussi showed me 8-7.

However, that call got me too juiced up. I felt so confident that I lost my focus. That is one of my biggest weaknesses as a player and this was the biggest event of my career. I made some poor decisions after that and was unable to come up with the victory.

Full results from the $50,000 HORSE event can be found here.

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