Razz Trap Gone Awry

I've been teUing you about a hand where the trap worked perfectly, but now I need to tel you about a time when the trap cost me a huge pot! I n a four-handed $600-$1,200 Razz game, the following hand came up between Johnny Chan and me. ( In 2002, J ohnny passed me and became the all-time leading money winner i n the history of t he World Series of Poker—with more than $3 miilion.) I had started the hand with ( A-5) 4 and I s imply called the $200 bring-in bet—in order to trap Johnny, who was sitting right behind me. He completed the bet to $600 with what I eventually learned was (A-A) A, a pure bluff! I n other words, I was getting exactly what I wanted! I had trapped Johnny into playing (A-A) A, one of the worst possible starting hands in Razz! So I j ust called his $400, and now I caught a six, for ( A-5) 4-6, and I c hecked to Johnny, who caught a seven for A-7 on the board.

I checked again, knowing that I had an extremely strong hand. J ohnny bet out into me with his A-7, a nd I s mooth-called him once again, p retending to be weak. The next c ard brought a five for me and a hand of ( A-5) 4-6-5. J ohnny caught a five as well, for A-7-5 on the board. I checked again, but now I was worried that he had a strong hand, because I j udged that the five probably hadn't paired him. ( I didn't t hink he had a five i n the hole, a s I had two fives myself.)

I c hecked again, J ohnny bet out $1,200, a nd I j ust c ailed. I was no longer thinking about trapping Johnny; I was concerned that he had a strong hand, and I was worried about whether or not I could win the pot! On sixth street I caught a queen, for a hand of ( A-5) 4-6-5-Q, a nd Johnny caught a nine for a board of A-7-5-9. J ohnny was now low, s o he bet $1,200 into me, and I c ailed. Now I was s ure that J ohnny had at least one good card to go with his four-card nine on board. I n other words, I was sure that he had at least a nine low at this point in the hand.

My last ( down) card was an ugly-looking king, for a final hand of ( A-5) 4 -6-5-Q (K), and Johnny bet o ut $1,200 i nto me. I didn't even consider calling the bet with my queen low, so I said, "Look at what I was trapping you with. I had a six-low draw after four cards! You're pretty lucky to win this pot. All I c ould make was a queen low." Johnny chuckled and showed me that he had started with three aces on a pure bluff, but on the last card he had caught a j ack and bluffed i nto me with his j ack low (A-5-7-9- was his five-card low hand, after he discarded A-A). As it t urned out, I couldn't have beaten his j ack low anyway with my queen low. (He was bluffing with the best hand, something that happens more often than you might think when you make what you believe i s a s uccessful b luff.) But t alk about opening the door for someone! If I had just opened the pot for $600 in the first place, t hen I would almost surely have won it right t here on the opening bet. It's not often that (A-A) A can make a better l ow than (A-4) 5. It's also interesting that I was trapping Johnny in the same hand that he was trying to bluff me out on. We were both putting moves on each other. This i s a case where the t rap cost me a lot of money.

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