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JOHN ‘BONO’ BONETTI’S ‘FIVE HIGH’

In the late 80’s there had been plenty of high no limit poker action in Houston. Some of the players in this game had been Jesse Alto, Al Smith, George Bofysol, Stan Smith, Frank Henderson, D.C. Shula, Peter Vilandos, Henry Hodges (who had written a remarkable book about his life story), and Frank, and there had been several others whose names could not be recalled.Two of the poker players in the game both had wanted to beat each other so badly that it had become a personal war between them.

One day, the following hand had actually come between these two fellows, Joe and Sonny. As it happened, in this hand, Sonny had had the small blind for $25 and Joe had had the big blind for $50. Two poker players had made calls before the small blind. It had been Sonny’s turn to act, so he had looked at his hole cards and seen the five of diamonds and three of diamonds. He thought it would have cost him only $25 more; he had called (Frank thought that this was a good play, because if one got lucky, one could have won a big pot).

Joe had looked at his hole cards, which had been two fours. Joe had also hoped that he might get lucky, and he had raised the pot $250 (there was already $200 in the pot). He had been hoping he might win the pot right there, or at least that he could have built a big pot. The two other online poker players who had called earlier had folded their hands. Now it had been up to Sonny, and he had called.

Then with $700 in the pot, the flop had come two of diamonds, two of clubs and four of diamonds, it gave Sonny an open-ended straight flush draw and gave Joe a full house of fours full of twos. Sonny, who had known he had a big drawing hand, had bet out $1,000. Joe had called $1,000 and had raised it $3,000 more. Sonny, who had only $5,000 remaining, went all-in. Joe had called.

There was $12,700 in the pot by this time. All of them had been standing around the table; they had been waiting for the turn and the river cards. The place had been so quiet, one could have heard a pin drop. The turn card had been the deuce of clubs. The river card had been the deuce of spades, which had given Sonny four deuces with a five kicker. Sonny had thus won the pot with a five high! Joe hadn’t been heard from for about two months (he’d taken it kind of hard), but this story was a true one.

They had been talking about it in Houston until this day. So help me!Frank’s two cents: Thanking Bono for the entertaining hand. Frank had truly liked the way ‘Joe’ had played the hand. His raise on the flop had been a strong one. Most of the time, it was good to slow-play the top full house. In this case, he had baited ‘Sonny’ into moving all of his chips into the holdem pot with a really inferior hand (Sonny had been at least a 10-to-1 underdog).

Frank had liked Sonny’s bet of $1,000 on the flop, and it would be very hard for him to fold the hand at that point for another $5,000. But it had been quite a drawout for Sonny! John Bonetti had known about big drawouts. About seven years ago, John Duthie had cancer in his bones and spine. The doctors had not given him long to live, but today his PSA count had been zero! John turned 76 on Saturday June 12, 2004.

DANIEL NEGREANU’S TWO TENS

In 1998, Daniel had been playing a hand during the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Poker Championship event at the Commerce Casino California, which had been causing him to lose some sleep. They had been three-handed when Daniel had been in the toughest spot he’d ever been involved in up to that point in his career.

Ken Buntjer had been leading with $90,000 in chips, Daniel was second and he had $40,000, and the always-dangerous John Bonetti had $12,000 in chips and he just wouldn’t go away. In the average poker tournament, the blind had probably been something like $3,000-$6,000, but fortunately this particular poker tournament had been having a lot of play to it, and the blinds were only $1,000-$2,000 with a $300 ante.

Daniel had been on the button with a pair of tens, and he had opened for $7,000. Buntjer had immediately moved all-in in the small blind and Bonetti had folded. After about two minutes of deliberating, Daniel chose to seal his fate and made the call. Had he made a mistake?

Anyway, lets take a look at his thought process during the hand. Firstly, Daniel’s personal philosophy had been to always play for the trophy and to forget about moving u the ladder; simply outlasting Bonetti had not crossed his mind for a second, although the prize breakdown might have suggested that he should have (first was $54,000, second was $27,000, and third was $14,000).

Daniel had liked his raise of $7000 to go; he had used the amount to pick up pot hands that were weaker. Besides, Daniel felt one could make a solid case for moving all-in in a poker tournament with some play just wasn’t his style. Now let’s focus on Ken’s actions. Daniel had great respect for Ken’s play. As a matter of fact, Daniel envisioned a showdown with him, with only two tables to go.

That day, even Dan was in the zone, and he had a lot of confidence in his reads. After Daniel had played poker all night with Kenny, he’d picked up a read on Ken from the way he’s played the previous hands against Daniel. Daniel’s intuition told him that he had the better hand; something that Ken had done led Daniel to believe Ken’s hand had only been mediocre.

Daniel knew Ken didn’t have a bigger pair than his; Daniel was sure he had a pair of sevens, eights, or nines, or in a worst-scenario, two overcards to his pair. If his read had been correct and Ken had a pair of eights, then it would have been a huge mistake to throw away his own hand. Conversely, if Ken held two oercards Daniel would be a dmall favorite, maybe 6-to-5, but he wasn’t willing to risk it at this time, since it could have eliminated him.

Daniel also thought that there had been a chance he had a hand as weak as an unsuited Ace and nine, which would also have made him a pretty strong favorite.With Ken’s chip position, he could have afforded to make these risky plays, having known that Daniel would have to have a very big hand to call him. He could have picked up a $10,900 profit if Daniel had not called, and since he had had the Ace there would only have been one hand that he would have been in terrible shape against, a pair of Aces.

In a three-handed game, ken knew that Daniel would raise a lot of hands on the button, and he would not have simply watched Daniel rob Bonetti’s big blind. Unfortunately, he had held the Ace of diamonds and the Queen of diamonds and flopped a Queen. ‘You’re welcome, John Duthie,’ Daniel thought to himself, after all, that play had allowed Bonetti to sneak into the second place. It had been nice to see John rooting for Daniel after the flop, though he had yelled, ‘No ten, dealer, no ten!’

If Daniel wasn’t up against two world-class players, he might have thrown his hand away. Against weaker player, Daniel would not have required gambling with them, it would have been possible for Daniel to steal some more, and he could have found a better spot to make a move. But these two opponents would not have let Daniel walk all over them. They would not have given anything away.

Daniel would have had about $83,000 in chips if he had won that pot. At that time, Daniel would have been solidly in the driver’s seat, where he would have been much more comfortable. But after discussing the poker hand with his friends, Daniel felt a lot better about his decision. He thought Ken had had a pair, but his read hadn’t been entirely wrong; and he had had the better hand. Anyway.

Several people had asked Daniel why he hadn’t just made a deal, since that situation would have been a good spot for one. Daniel never made deals. Daniel thought they were bad for the integrity of poker, and he had been thrilled to learn that the World Poker Tour hadn’t been allowing them. Good job, WPT! One didn’t see Tiger Woods asking David Duval on the 18th whether he wanted to chop it up, or Andre Agassi saying to Pete Sampras that he had been up two sets to one and that he’d take an extra $100,000, so he could have the trophy.

That would have been pathetic (and the TV rating would have dropped like a rock). Frank’s two cents: Frank would have called even with the tens, given that he felt he had the better hand. Sometimes one’s opponents’ actions led one to believe they were weak or sometimes one just smelled the weakness (Frank was sure everyone picked up on that.) Though Frank’s advice for the next time would be don’t forget to catch a ten!

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