By Tony Dunst
I recently played a $3,000 event at Thunder Valley casino, in the Sacramento area. I was fortunate to win my major flips at the final table, and found myself heads-up with a longtime pro (and two-time WPT Champion) J.C. Tran. He entered heads-up with a small chip-lead, but I had drawn close to even when we played the biggest pot of the tournament.
I started with 750k to his 1.1 million, with blinds at 10k-20k-20k. J.C. raised the button to 45k, and I called with .
The flop came 8-7-6 with one spade, and after I checked J.C. bet 50k. I called with top pair, and the turn brought the , putting a flush draw on the board.
I checked, and now J.C. bet 150k. My hand was much too strong to fold but too weak to shove as most of the hands that would call me are strong favorites. So I called again, and the river brought the , completing the backdoor flush draw.
I checked, and without much hesitation J.C. said all-in. I felt like this was a tricky spot; I’d much rather have a spade in my hand—and I’d make the call if I did—but without one it gets harder. Against an opponent who bluffs too much, I’d call, but I wasn’t sure J.C. fit that description.
He definitely bluffs sometimes, and I assumed he’d bluff with plenty of one spade hands, especially hands with a 9 or 10 in them. But he’s not a habitual over-bluffer…and he’d previously beat me in a hand where he bet three-streets for value with top pair on a coordinated board, so I was concerned he’d shove every pocket pair over the 8 that contained a spade.
It was the longest hand of the match, but eventually, I decided to fold. I went on to lose the match, and afterward, I saw J.C. eating tacos in the Mexican restaurant on the casino floor. I placed an order and got a beer, then slid into the opposing side of J.C. ’s table. He took a moment to finish chewing, then cleared his throat and asked: “What’d you have that hand?”
Want to see your name on the WPT Champions Cup? Check out more advanced tournament poker strategy to gain the tools to become a WPT Champion on LearnWPT.com.