In this "reverse" bluff, Johnny Chan bluffed Erik Seidel into thinking he held the best hand, lured him into betting, and won a $1.6 million pot during the final stages of the 1988 World Series of Poker.
Chan had won the World Series the previous year and had been on a roll ever since. Here he was, 12 months later, with a chance to win back-to-back titles. But he'd need some magic to accomplish it. Seidel, a former commodities broker from New York, left Wall Street for the life of a professional poker player; and now he had a big chip lead on the defending champ.
At this point in the tournament, the blinds were $10,000 and $20,000. Chan was first to act on each betting round. The flop was Q*10*8*.
Chan checked. Seidel bet $50,000. Chan called. The turn card was a complete blank, and both men checked. The fifth and final card was another blank. Chan checked.
Seidel held a queen in his hand, giving him top pair, albeit with a weak kicker. He thought for a moment that Chan might have a queen with a better kicker. But by checking on the turn and on the river, Chan passed up his final chance to bet!
Seidel then pushed all of his chips into the center of the table, certainly a sizeable enough bet to cause Chan to release any slightly better hand in the event that Seidel had misread him. Seidel thought his all-in bet would prevent Chan from calling with hands such as a queen with a better kicker, or two small pair.
Seidel had, in fact, misread Chan. And not by a little, but by a lot. Chan smiled as he turned over his hand. Chan had flopped a straight with the J*9*.
Had Chan not bluffed, more than likely Seidel would have folded in the face of a bet from his adversary on the turn or the river. But Chan did bluff. In fact, he did it twice, once on the turn and again on the river and he reaped a handsome reward: his second consecutive World Championship.
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