Beating Bad Chances
  World Series of Poker
  World Poker Tour
  European Poker Tour
  Reading OtherPlayer’s Mail
  From the Other Side of the Table
  Poker Hollywood Style
  Cheese head Poker
  A Golf Story
  An Hand
  Champion of the Year Award
  Frank’s Top Moments in Poker
  The Next Poker Wave



On tap for this chapter: brilliant no-limit poker moves of the day. How could he even consider making that call? How did he think of making that fold? Answer: he had been reading your mail! He acted that way because he knew what cards you had. Frank firmly believes one couldn’t lose if one knew what cards the other players have when one is playing no-limit Hold’em poker. These hands defy math and poker strategy so one might as well forget about it. Pure reading ability made these moves possible. Here are some of the more sensational moves that Frank witnessed.


World Poker Champions Mansour Matloubi and Stuey Ungar faced off in a series of $50,000 buy-in heads-up ‘freeze-outs’ (one on one matches which end when a player wins $50,000) at the WSOP in 1997. After winning the WSOP in 1989 Mansour told Frank that he was in top form in his poker career during that time. They were playing a game of no-limit Hold’em poker that day; the following hand came up when the blinds were $200-$400.

Mansour called with 4-5 off suit when Stuey bet $1,900 in the small blind. The flop came down an unsuited pair of threes and a seven, so Stuey bet $6,000 he’d opened wit $60,000 to Mansour’s $40,000 Mansour then matched the $6,000 bet. A King came off at the fourth street and both players checked. A Queen came off at the river, making a board of 3, 3, 7, K, Q, so Mansour bet his last $32,000 or so because he smelled a weakness in Stuey.

After ten seconds of looking through Mansour, Stuey told him he either had a four and five or a five and six. Stuey said he would call Mansour with this. He then proceeded to flip up a ten and a nine, and he called the $32,000 bet although all he had was a ten high. That was an incredibly unbelievable call! With such a hand Stuey could not have beaten even a Jack-high bluff, let alone a pair. In this case, all that Stuey could beat was a four and five or a four and six or a five and six.

Mansour deserved some credit. He made a great bluff after having read Stuey correctly. On the other side poker hand, Stuey should be given even more credit! Mansour looked up at the ceiling when Stuey called, and he thought to himself that he felt he’d been run over by a bulldozer. Frank still loved Stuey, but he couldn’t make out what was happening! Recently Mansour told Frank that one can do nothing but give up, when a guy makes a call like that.

It felt like the guy had taken all the wind out of his sails. Mansour decided he couldn’t play any more heads-up no-limit Hold’em poker with Stuey, at least not on that day, if not forever.  Of course, that was the last hand Mansour ever played with Stuey heads-up (Stuey died in the late 1990s). While Bobby Baldwin and ‘Chip’ Reese were playing gin at table 60, Stuey played in a 5-handed $900-$1,200 game with Mansour on table 59 one day at the WSOP in 1992.

Suddenly, ‘Chip’ Reese turned to the other table where Stuey was sitting and asked him whether Stuey liked the way he played his hand. Stuey, who was busy playing $900-$1,200 at the next table replied saying he would have knocked four draws ago with five (points). Chip rolled his eyes up and uttered, Thanks. Nonetheless, Chip realized Stuey was correct since Stuey was known for being all but invincible in gin. As a matter of fact nobody was willing to play gin rummy with him for many years, as he was so good at it.

However, Chip’s reason for rolling up his eyes wasn’t because Stuey was correct. In fact, he rolled his up because it was unbelievable that Stuey could watch his every move while concurrently playing high-stakes poker! Stuey was known as the best in the world at gin (it is true that he was the best for two decades) during the 1980s, also he was known as the best no-limit Hold’em poker player ever (he had already won two World Championships and was on his way to winning another), and he was also known as one of the best backgammon players in the World.

It was incredible that he was at the top or near the top in all three simultaneously, when it was considered an achievement to top any one of these games of poker. There were many other astonishing stories about Stuey and his unbelievable talents he had. Frank has heard that Nolan Dalla is going to write a book about him very soon; also a movie titled Stuey and based on his life has been released. Frank has every intention of checking out both.


As far as prestige is concerned, Frank truly feels that the Tournament of Champions is second only to the World Series Of Poker’s main event in 1998 and 1999 (TOC has only been around or two years). Frank feels that the difference between the two events of poker is that when there are forty-five players left in the TOC, thirty of them are unknown to him. In the WSOP’s main event this would be impossible. Luck plays a major role in nolimit poker than in no-limit poker and unfortunately the TOC is a limit game.

Just the same, Frank considers the TOC needs great amount of talent. Other than the main WSOP’s main event, Frank had never been given so much time to work on his chips. Frank dearly missed the TOC because he admired the manner in which Mike Sexton and Chuck Humphrey had promoted the event. The following hand came up when there were six players remaining at the Tournament of Champions in 1998.

Lynn Bauer limped in, in the first position for $20,000 while the blinds were $10,000-$20,000 and the antes were $2,000. Both Jan Boubli and Men Nguyen folded. That’s when David Chiu made it $75,000 to go by raising it on the button. (David had approximately $85,000 in chips.) Only about 15 seconds had lapsed when Louis Asmo literally pushed all his chips into the pot with high velocity, these amounted to roughly $6,50,000.

Lynn Bauer, who was in the first position, folded his poker hand, and so did Doyle Brunson, in the big blind. David Chiu studied his hand for a minute or so and flipped his two Kings and said that he was folding. Huh! What’s happening? Or in Ted Forrest’s words, ‘what the hell in going on?’ The energy in the room erupted as the crowd realized they were watching a prodigy perform when Louis flipped up a pair of Aces.

That’s right, Louis had a pair of Aces. How would David know? In all of 1999, there was no doubt that this was the finest play made in a poker tournament. What was happening? Indeed, what was happening! Since the tight playing Lynn Bauer had limped into the pot in the first position, Louis Asmo knew David had a hand. When a tight player limped in, in the first position, why would David raise without having a hand? (Several players like to trap from the first position.)

David knew that Louis was aware he had a hand. Since Louis plays incredibly tight poker, it was obvious that he too had a hand. If he himself had not had a hand there was no way that he would have raised someone. All this is simple to reckon. The next step is the one that most people would never be able to take in their entire lives, that is complex: Just for a single reraise pre-flop, he laid down a pair of Kings in the hole.

The year that Hamid Dastmalchi had won the World Championship, he had laid down a pair of pocket Kings pre-flop at the final table of the WSOP. But there was a difference. Complex, yes, but Hamid had reraised Johnny Chan when Mike Alsaadi (read ‘supertight player’) moved in over the top. Mike almost told Hamid what he had (There was only one hand he’d have liked to move-in with over there), according to Johnny Chan.

It was the third raise (versus the second raise for David and Louis) from Mike Alsaadi that Hamid threw a pair of pocket Kings away. Someone folding a pair of Kings in the pocket before the flop in a tournament of poker is so uncommon, it could only happen perhaps once every other year. At any rate, the only explanation would be that David Chiu was either a Betazoid (like Councilor Troy on Star Trek: The Next Generation) or he looked right through Louis and down into his soul.

What Frank was trying to say here was, everyone knows that sometimes they are up against the nuts. On the eve of the finals Frank had told Andy Glazer that sometimes the great players just know when their opponent has the nuts. Three times in Frank’s life he had discarded a pair of Kings before the flop, and each time his opponent had a pair of Aces in the hole. He’d only discarded a pair of Kings three times in all those years of playing holdem no-limit poker. Discarding a pair of Kings before the flop is something most people have never done in their entire lives.

Since David Chiu knew that Louis had the nuts (a pair of Aces), it was possible for him to discard a pair of Kings before the flop. Perhaps moving his chips in at hyperspeed had something to do with the fact. It’s possible that David noticed that Louis was hoping for a call. One way or another, David had guessed it under the most intense conditions. Frank had noticed that when playing poker, great players knew when to make truly great plays. In his mind, Frank never doubted the fact that David Chiu was a great poker player, he was proud of him. He deserved the credit.


People feel that they were truly unlucky in the last no-limit Hold’em poker tournament that they played. They claim they had been dealt bad cards; therefore they couldn’t win a pot. Although John Duthie too never had a hand, somehow he managed to take the chip lead and then he proceeded to win the win the Poker Million in the year 1999. One may well ask, how? How was it possible for him to win a no-limit Hold’em poker event without ever having a hand?

Does that mean that people actually believe that luck was on their side every time someone won a no-limit hold’em poker event? Come to your senses, people. No-limit Hold’em poker isn’t so much about luck as it is about nerves and reading ability. For the past ten years, Frank had been telling everybody that he was a really lucky player, and he sincerely believed it to be the truth. However, every time Frank won a no-limit Hold’em poker event, this claim allowed him to hide behind the fact that he made several key bluffs.

Would Frank truly want anyone to know that he actually bluffed, would he? If people learned Frank bluffed they would call him down more frequently. On the flip side, it would appear dreadful if he always claimed that he stole every chip on the table. Wow! Was that simple? It suited Frank that people liked to focus on luck, as those people would never be lucky enough to win a no-limit Hold’em poker event, since there are a few real players at the table.

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