At the Bellagio tournament in April ($3,120 buy in, start with 6000 in chips) about two hours in I had 10,000 in chips and was moved to a table with Alan Goehring to my immediate right with almost 30,000 in chips!!! Surely he was the chip leader of the entire event and he was, of course, playing almost every hand of the 50-100 level. Allen Cunningham was two spots to my left and he had perhaps 13,000 (normally a very healthy stack, but here…). The two Alan's went into a confrontation the second hand I was at the table. Goehring limped from under-the-gun with 64off-suit and Cunningham raised to 400 (a standard sized raise behind one limper) and Goehring called with the post-flop play being heads-up. The flop came 532 with two clubs!!! Well any wondering I might have had about how Goehring got that 30,000 went up in smoke a bit later on, when I saw his hand. Goehring checked and Cunningham bet 700 with the and two, or three, 'draws' (to the nut flush, to a vulnerable straight, and to possible overcards)—of course in this case we know he is drawing to the flush only…but he doesn't know that! Goehring check-raised to 1400.
The "mini-raise", the Alan G raise (he was the first that I saw consistently using it, on a televised stage when he won the initial WPT championship), the internet raise, what I call the 'freeze' bet. I call it the freeze bet because it tends to have an enormous dampening effect on further actions—in days of old it almost always meant that the raiser was someone that had a very big hand. Nowadays I don't know what it means! Lee Nelson says it is a lot easier to make a weak hand than a monster and so until there is evidence of it being a monster you should treat it as weak! Now that is an interesting viewpoint, following a pertinent observation.
In this case Cunningham does almost nothing in a hurried manner and after a bit he calls. The turn is the 4 of spades, and Goehring bets 1600 into a pot of 3750, a bet that is begging to be paid off…or shows a lot of weakness. Goehring bet small to set a trap here, hoping that Cunningham would come over the top, of course, but did he do the right thing? If he could see Cunningham 's hand, as we can in this replay perhaps he would move all-in, or at least bet 200% of the pot, making it very difficult for Cunningham to play, or to lay it down--no matter which option he chooses. In this case Cunningham contemplates his action and at last calls! Now 40% of the players in the world would raise this, in my opinion, and get themselves in line to go blooie after they are re-raised. Goehring has made a play to the wrong guy, to someone that does not make an effort to put Goehring on anything, but knows that he might hold any hand. Cunningham was clearly willing to just call Goehring down if he missed his nut flush draw, and hope that he was bluffing, or that he has a flush draw without a six in it, or an overpair that he was being cute with, or even a set! Cunningham knows that Goehring has enough chips to do what he wants to in this pot, whereas it might be life and death for Cunningham.
The river brings a red jack and Goehring bets 6000. Cunningham goes into a think here, but how can he lay it down? The pot is now 6950 and Cunningham has put 3400 into that and if he calls and loses he still has 3600. Versus Goehring I think it is an easy call, and a major disappointment, although Cunningham lives to fight on.
Even after Cunningham thinks for a while, sometimes you should not be premature in believing that you have a winner. Admittedly he was 7 years younger but I still remember a hand from before the WPT in the championship event at the Commerce which had a buy-in, I believe, of some odd amount between 5,000 and 10,000. Seven players limped into a pot at the 400 blind level, John Bonetti, Phil Hellmuth, and another name player ahead of Cunningham, he limped, then Chris Ferguson, right behind him, the button, me in the little blind with , and then Canadian Tom moved all-in from the big blind (with TT, as it turned out—as the eighth player), and it was passed back to Cunningham, who thought for like two minutes and at last said, "let's gamble" as he called. The rest of us mucked and Cunningham turned up KK! I was stunned that he limped in the first place as third or fourth in from the hijack, and thought he must be hollywooding to think before calling the all-in, but when I asked him about it a few years later he remembered the hand instantly and responded to my query with, "I didn't have Aces." Hmmmmmm.
Until the next time, play good…and be lucky!