Biggest Bluffs in History of Poker
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When it comes to poker, you do not always need brilliant hands to take that coveted poker pot home. Sometimes all you need is a mix of bluffing skills, chance and a bit of luck to turn the odds in your favour. Vital to this, some professional poker players around the world have actually harnessed the power of bluffing to such an extent that their bluffs are now noted and recalled as the biggest bluff in poker history. Here, in this composite guide we have detailed the top 3 biggest bluffs in poker history along with the meaning of the term “bluff”.
When it comes to poker, a player is said to bluff when he either calls or raises a bet in an attempt to pressurise and make his opponent fold. To put it simply, a poker bluff is generally regarded as an attempt to deceive someone into believing that you hold a strong hand when you actually do not hold one. Generally speaking, most poker pros around the world save their bluffs for the best moments in the game which is when they believe their opponent is at the most vulnerable and is thus much more likely to fold. Here, it is imperative for you to remember that bluffing is a vital part of any poker game and as such is considered a must-have skill in every poker player’s arsenal.
Since listing out all the major biggest bluffs in poker history will be quite exhaustive, we have detailed the top 3 biggest bluffs in poker history in this list, which will leave you scratching your head.
Moneymaker vs Farha
The setting of this bluff was the World Series of poker main event back in the year 2003. That year, Chris Moneymaker, an unknown in the poker world, won a $39 satellite tournament and thereafter entered the WSOP tournament main event. Though unknown, Moneymaker was far ahead of his competitors. Through his sheer ability and skills, he won one game after another and finally reached the final table where he was up against seasoned and popular tournament player Sam Farha. Here, it is imperative to remember the WSOP tournament happened at a time when ESPN had changed its broadcasting technique. Vital to this, in 2003 the ESPN had introduced such cameras that could show viewers at home hole cards of both the players.
The game progressed at a fast pace and by the time the river round came around, everyone was pretty much prepared for Moneymaker to fold any minute. But, then Moneymaker was no average poker player. Despite having a poor hand, this poker legend actually went all-in, and that too against Farah’s pair of nines. This move after a raise on the turn actually made even Farha question what Moneymaker was truly holding. Not willing to take any more risks Farha folded his cards soon after and just like that Chris Moneymaker went on to win the World Series poker tournament. As surprising as it might sound, Moneymaker actually bluffed the entire hand with a king-seven unsuited when Farha literally held a Queen-Nine.
Now, we understand when it comes to the biggest bluffs in poker history, the bluff by Moneymaker isn’t exactly the craziest ever to take place. But what if we tell you this one poker bluff quite literally changed poker forever. It was this bluff that made millions of poker fans around the world believed that they too can win a $2.5 million pot at poker with a $39 entry fee provided they have the requisite bluffing skills.
Phil Ivey and Paul Jackson
As per a popular saying, when two players bluff each other with close to nothing they are said to be playing what we know today as poker. As unlikely as it might sound, Phil Ivey and Paul Jackson proved the above saying right when during a poker tournament they both tried to out-bluff each other.
So, the setting was the final table of a tournament where the winner was to be bestowed with a massive sum of $1 million. Both Phil Ivey and Paul Jackson were involved in a heads-up wherein Ivey was dealt a queen-eight of hearts and was simultaneously leading the chip count by 4:1. By employing basic mathematics, we can easily conclude that Ivey had a 75% chance of winning against Jackson who by the way was sitting on a six-five unsuited.
The flop round came and 3 community cards namely a seven and pair of jacks were dealt face up. Here, to Ivey’s advantage, one of the cards was a heart, which probably made Ivey think that he had a distant chance of a flush. Riding high on the chances of a flush, Ivey moved forward and betted an amount of $80000, which Jackson thereafter raised to $170000. Not the one to hold back, Ivey re-raised the amount of the bet to $320000 and thus the stage for the biggest bluffs in poker history was set.
With both players holding absolutely nothing substantial, the ball for the current round was now in Jackson’s court. To everyone’s sheer surprise, Paul Jackson went all in for the pound and the penny and actually re-raised the bet once again this time to $470000. For the last call, Ivey asked Jackson in a feeble voice what he had left, to which Jackson replied chips worth “$380000”. This was the moment when the world witnessed the biggest bluff in poker history as Ivey actually went all-in. This move was thankfully enough to stop Jackson who thereafter threw his cards away. The sheer courage with which Phil Ivey and Paul Jackson actually bluffed each other despite having nothing at all pretty much made this the biggest bluff in poker history.
Jack Strauss in the poker world series
Imagine winning an entire poker tournament when you have been down to a single chip. Yes, that is the feat that the legendary Jack Strauss accomplished during the 1982 Poker World Series. It is imperative here to consider that at one point during the game, Strauss had actually stood up and was preparing to leave when he found a single $500 chip under his napkin. That was it, what happened next set the precedent for the biggest bluffs in poker history.
So, the game was no limit Texas Holdem wherein Strauss was dealt the worst hand possible, an off-suited 7-2. However, rather than folding he went forward and decided to raise anyway. This didn’t have any significant ripple effects as only one player dropped out. Thereafter, the flop round came and 3 community cards namely 7-3-3 were dealt face up. Though the community cards actually gave Strauss a two pair he likely deciphered the same would not be enough to beat his opponent. Not the one to be boggled by it, Strauss nevertheless kept pushing the bets which in turn made his opponent a bit doubtful about Strauss’s hand strength. The turn round came and a 2 was dealt which didn’t help the cause either. Strauss still moved forward and capitalised on his opponent’s doubt, as he actually pushed a massive bet worth $18000. Before his opponent could even think of another move, Strauss did the biggest bluff in poker history. He said to his opponent and we quote “I’ll tell you what, just give me one of those $25 chips of yours and you can see one of my cards, whichever you choose”. The opponent having nothing to lose picked one of Strauss’s cards which turned out to be a 2. Believing Strauss had successfully made a full house his opponent folded his cards and Strauss successfully took the pot home that night. Moreover, the biggest bluff in poker history is that no matter which card his opponent would have chosen the effect would likely have been the same
There are far too many examples of biggest bluffs in poker history to document here. Nevertheless, the 3 biggest bluffs in poker history listed above are by far the most popular and unique by poker standards. A second look at each of these biggest bluffs in poker history and you can get a fair idea that to win at poker, sometimes all you need is good bluffing skills, along with some courage.
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