Anyone remember that crazy Tom Dwan bluff on High Stakes Poker season 5?
It’s is one of the most famous hands of poker played on TV ever. This hand and many like it have led to many players having warped ideas of how poker works.
CAUTION: Don’t try this at home.
Barry Greenstein get’s [AA] preflop and raising to $2,500 as the first player to act. Being the first player to act and being Barry Greenstein will indicate that he has a strong hand.
Miraculously seven players call. Tom Dwan called UTG+1 with [QcTc] (also very early position) and Peter Eastgate called from the Small Blind (very late position) with [42o].
Barry decided to C-Bet, betting roughly half pot. At this point we could guess that Barry probably has [TT+, AT] and maybe some bluffs such as [QdJd].
Tom Dwan raises to $37,200 with [QcTc], top pair with a good kicker, as a classic Tom Dwan bluff.
As there are more players involved in the pot the threshold for hand strength to commit chips to the pot increases.
[AA] Is a very strong hand here, but it has very little equity vs [TT] or [2x]. Tom is raising [QT] because Barry would only possibly be able to have one combination of [TT], the [ThTs]. While this is possible, it is very unlikely. It is virtually impossible for Barry to have a two in his hand, except for maybe , which is unlikely and it is also possible Barry either folds or limps in with that hand preflop.
Tom’s reputation is that he is a very loose and aggressive player. Based on that it is not unreasonable to think that he is playing a hand such as [32s] or [A2s].
Tom knows that it is very difficult for Barry to have the “nuts”, but he is likely to hold a better hand than Tom currently has. Tom raises and turns his hand into a bluff to make Barry fold an overpair.
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While it is almost impossible for Barry to have a deuce, and improbable but not impossible that Tom has one, in general it is not really likely that anyone has a two.
A deuce is the most unlikely card for anyone to have in their hand once they have decided to play their hand preflop. That means Tom thinks it’s a good spot to bluff because it’s unlikely anyone has a hand better than two pair on this board.
It is a scary line, raising someone who clearly has an overpair. You are essentially saying “Sorry, but Pocket Aces are not the best hand here.”
The action folds over to Peter, who calls!
Eastgate was in the blinds preflop. If anyone is likely to have a deuce in their hand it’s one of the players in the blinds. They close the action preflop and already have some money in the pot, so they are getting a good price to call with a hand such as [3s2s]. Eastgate has [42o], a hand which we don’t advise playing.
Once Eastgate over-calls the flop raise his range is basically [TT, 2x], so he definitely has at least trips.
Barry calls as well, which is definitely not a good call, ESPECIALLY given how he plays the rest of the hand.
It should be obvious to The Bear, that if Tom Dwan doesn’t have him beat, Eastgate definitely does. Unless he plans on bluffing or calling down Tom Dwan he should be out of this hand on the flop.
The turn is a black [7d] and they check to Tom Dwan who bets $104,200, or roughly ¾ the size of the pot.
At this point Tom knows and even says after the hand is over, that Eastgate has [2x]. He thinks Barry still has exactly what he has [AA].
By having that [T] in his hand he believe that Eastgate merely has trips and not a full house and that Barry still just has one pair. After they both call and Tom bets AGAIN he believes he is representing an incredible amount of strength, specifically saying he has [TT], a hand which he would be almost certain to just call preflop given the action.
By betting again he thinks that both players will put him on exactly [TT] and fold everything except, [T2s, 22, TT] all of which are very uncommon.
They both fold…
Here’s the rub. Both Barry and Peter are tight players and very experienced poker players. They are acutely in tune with what Tom Dwan’s line means. Also they are playing for a lot of money. For whatever reason when the stakes get high, even if someone is very wealthy, they start to behave oddly.
It is not incredible to me that Eastgate folded his trips, because it was probably a lot of money to him and he wasn’t sure he was going to win. It is dangerous to play with any amount of money if you are uncomfortable to put it into the pot without anything but the nuts. Players like Tom Dwan understand and thrive on that.
This hand is also on television, so being wrong and losing a huge pot when Tom Dwan is “obviously” representing a hand that beats [AA or 2x] is potentially embarrassing. There is a tremendous amount of results oriented behavior that goes on in poker and really in life.
The point is there is a lot going on here that definitely is NOT going on in your local casino or online cash games. I rarely would make someone try to fold top pair, let alone trips, in a live cash game. Players hate folding these hands and for the most part don’t understand absolute vs relative hand strength. Eastgates Absolute hand strength is very strong, three of a kind is very hard to make in No Limit Hold’em, but on a relative level he might as well have [AT] as Tom Dwan is representing [TT] or some bluff. This is the most common mistakes amateurs makes, not understanding relative vs absolute hand strength.
The best strategy in a situation like this is to just never bluff and bet big and max out value when you do happen to be fortunate enough to cooler someone.
I’m a professional poker player and one of the pros here on UpswingPoker.com.
I’m a WSOP Bracelet winner, LAPT (Latin American Poker Tour) tournament winner and a multi-million dollar winner of live & online tournaments.