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Bluffing Ivey

If you don’t watch High Stakes Poker, then you missed one of the slickest bluffs seen in a very long time. Tom “durrrr” Dwan was the bluffer; Phil Ivey was the victim. The action was six-handed and Ivey sat on the chip lead with $1 million after busting both Phil Hellmuth and Jason Mercier. Phil Laak opened with As-9d for a $3,900 raise. Eli Elezra called with As-7s. Ivey called with Ad-6d. Daniel Negreanu called with Jc-3c from his small blind. Dwan found 9s-8s in the big blind.
 
“With durrrr, you don’t know what to expect,” said Laak. “At any time in the hand, it’s total wild madness.”
 
With $17,600 in the pot, Dwan squeezed to $28,900. Laak rapidly muttered an incoherent sentence and then folded. Elezra also folded. Ivey coldly stared down Dwan and exhaled as he tossed out five $5,000 chips. Negreanu bailed out of the hand and folded. Dwan and Ivey built an enticing $70,700 pot.
 
The flop was Kd-Qc-10d. Ivey maintained the lead with only ace-high, picking up the nut flush draw and a Broadway gutshot. Dwan fired out $45,800, even though he missed the flop with only a draw to the crap end of the gutshot.
 
“How much did you start this hand with?” Ivey asked.
 
“About 750,” Dwan calmly answered.
 
Ivey had Dwan covered by at least $250,000. I anticipated Ivey checkraising in that spot with his big draw, but he just called. The pot increased to $162,300.
 
The turn was the 3s and did not help either player.
 
“The man with 9-high just bet $123,000,” deadpanned High Stakes Poker host Gabe Kaplan.
 
A brazen Dwan fired away and Ivey called without blinking as the pot swelled to $408,700. I love that brand of fearlessness at the tables! That is the very reason why I watch televised poker.
 
The 6c fell on the river. Dwan’s 9-high did not improve. Ivey whiffed on both of his draws but the river gave him a pair of sixes. Dwan sized up Ivey, who sat across the table in Rodin’s thinker pose with a clenched fist against his chin. Dwan then took a quick inventory of his remaining stack.
 
“He is loading the gun,” commented Kaplan, as Dwan fired a fourth bullet at the pot.
 
“How much is that and how much does he have left?” Ivey asked the dealer.
 
Dwan bet $268,200 into a $408,700 pot.
 
“I have about 280 left,” replied Dwan with an apprehensive quiver in his voice.
 
Ivey slid back in his chair. His body language suggested that he didn’t believe Dwan, and that he wanted to call, yet he was cognizant that his pair of sixes was a slim holding.
 
“Wait until you see what I’m taking so long with,” Ivey apologized to the table for slowing down play as he wrestled with his decision. “This will be the sickest call of all time. Let’s think about this a little longer.”
 
Dwan started to crack when the usually quiet Ivey began talking. All of the color flushed out of Dwan’s face and he looked like he was about to puke. Ivey kept shaking his head and I had never seen him agonize this much over a call. His instincts were correct about sniffing out a four-barreled bluff with fourth pair. But could Ivey pull the trigger himself in a $676,900 pot?
 
“I can’t beat nothing expect for that,” Ivey cryptically said. Ivey folded and Dwan won the pot. If the hand happened online, Ivey would have been forced to make the decision before his time bank expired. I firmly believe that Ivey would have made the call if they were playing online, but he convinced himself to fold during the extra time allotted in the brick-and-mortar setting. As it happened, Dwan dragged the pot and pulled off the masterful bluff.
 
“You are a very interesting human,” noted Phil Laak, “And I’m glad to be in your orbit.”
 
Paul ‘Dr. Pauly’ McGuire is the author of the upcoming book ‘Lost Vegas’. You can read his poker blog, Tao of Poker, over at www.taopoker.com.

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