All The Aces Daily Poker Column

Famous Poker Bluffs

The Stu Ungar Bluff

Famous Poker Bluffs: Stu Ungar
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Following up on our recent poker column about bluffing, a player on mailed in with this famous tale of a mega bluff carried out by World Series of Poker Champ Stu Ungar.

It’s 1997 at the World Series final table and Stu Ungar looks to be in the driving seat. Having been chip leader from the outset you might have expected Stu to coast a little. Not a bit of it. Stu attacked anyone and everyone and raised on seven successive hands. Was he bluffing? You can bet on it, but none of the other players wanted to risk elimination by challenging him. Eventually, Vegas pro’ Ronald Stanley managed to steal the blinds a couple of times and positioned himself just $200,000 shy of Ungar’s mighty stash.

It looked like Stanley was about to overtake Ungar and inevitably they ended up in the kind of heads up ordinary poker players dream about. Ungar is in the big blind and Stanley simply calls. The flop comes down ace of spades-nine of hearts-six of spades. Ron Stanley, an extremely savvie pro’, had noted every time Ungar flopped top pair with an ace, he checked the flop and bet the turn. Stu again checked behind Stanley, indicating he may well have the ace again. The turn produced an eight and Stanley, nursing a nine in his hand and second pair, wagered $25,000. Stu immediately raised $60,000 and Stanley replied with a call. The river threw down a king. Stanley checked and Ungar bet $225,000. Ron Stanley pondered momentarily and folded. In typical psycho style Ungar turned up his hole cards to reveal queen-ten. He had nothing. It was a mega bluff and Stanley had thrown away the top hand.

The very best use of the bluff comes when the community cards are indicating that a probable flush or a straight are out there. A big bet winging in when there’s say three spades on the board or three consecutive cards is going to be treated much more seriously than a big bet coming in when the board isn’t betraying anything of a particularly threatening nature. Keep your eye out for these situations as they develop and be ready to load up if it fits in with your strategy for the hand.

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ALL THE ACES poker column:
Thursday November
 24, 2005: