Betting with heart and head

The seemingly endless amount of poker content available today, from books to magazines to video training, provides players with a variety of strategies that can educate like never before.

But for all the advances in poker thinking, there is one old-time concept that remains unchanged:

You need a lot of heart to become great.

You need the courage to run a bluff, and you need a similar type of heart to make the hero call -- a quality that championship pro David Benyamine displayed in today’s hand from the World Poker Tour’s $15,000-buy-in Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Las Vegas’ Bellagio in 2009.


With blinds at $1,500-$3,000 plus a $400 ante, the player to Benyamine’s right raised to $11,000 from second under the gun. Benyamine called with K-J suited, which can be a troublesome hand, but Benyamine had a lot of chips. He also thought he had a chance to gain position on his aggressive opponent, which is what happened when everyone else folded.

Heads up, they took a flop of Q-10-2, two clubs, giving Benyamine an open-ended straight draw and a backdoor flush draw but putting out two to a club draw. Both players checked.

The turn came the king of clubs, giving Benyamine top pair with a decent kicker, but the card completed a possible flush and straight. The initial raiser came out betting $30,000.

“He’s basically betting almost the pot after he checked the flop,” said Benyamine, who has won WPT and World Series of Poker events, “So he either has A-J, A-K, or he has nothing. There’s a good chance he has nothing.


“Very often when you have A-J or A-K and the flop comes Q-10, you bet that flop. You don’t check it.

“When you don’t have a pair, you normally bet that flop. You start checking it when you do have a pair that’s not top pair.”

Benyamine called. The river came the 4 of clubs, putting four flush cards out. Benyamine’s opponent made it $60,000 to go. All Benyamine had was a pair of kings.

“For him to come up with such a big bet on the river, he either has to have the ace of clubs or the jack of clubs,” said Benyamine, a pro from the Full Tilt Poker online site. “Most of the time he would not bet that much with the jack of clubs because I could be drawing behind him with the ace of clubs, and that’s why I might’ve called his $30,000 bet. Mostly it’s one card or nothing.

“I think if he had the jack, he would bet about half of the pot, around $45,000. But he bet $60,000 and he bet real fast, so I felt he was anxious.”

Combining logic and guile, Benyamine made the call and dragged the pot when his opponent showed A-8 of hearts.

Table talk

Open-ended straight draw: Four consecutive cards that can be completed by a card at either end.