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Poker News: April 3, 2006

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Inside Poker

Hard poker fact: You're going to be dealt a lot of junk hands.

Hard poker corollary: You're going to have to learn how to play them.

One of the best at maneuvering with garbage is John Juanda, the talented, unflap- pable pro associated with, who in this hand displayed his abilities to read his opponent and the texture of the board, along with betting smartly after the flop.

With blinds at $100-$200 during the main event of the 2005 U.S. Poker Championship, Juanda picked up 9-5 offsuit in the small blind. One player limped, Juanda called another $100 and the big blind checked.

The flop came 9-7-3, two clubs, giving Juanda top pair/no kicker.

"I put in a feel bet of $500," Juanda said. "The first guy folded. The last guy, who has been in a couple pots, called. I put him on a draw. He could have a flush draw or a straight draw."

The turn came the queen of hearts, an overcard to Juanda's pair.

"That wouldn't have made his draw," Juanda said. "If he has a flush draw, then he needed a club. If he had a straight draw, then he needed a jack or a 10, something like that.

"I bet again -- $1,100 -- because I wasn't afraid of the queen. He called me again. Of course he has to call if he's on a flush draw."

The river came an offsuit ace. Juanda checked, but not because he was concerned about the board coming another overcard to his pair of 9s. Juanda believed that if his opponent held an ace- high flush draw, he would've bet earlier in the hand, so he didn't think the ace on the river helped his opponent.

"If I had bet there, he would've folded," Juanda said. "I wouldn't have won anything. But by checking, I gave him the chance to bluff at the pot, which he did.

"Plus, I had been playing with the guy all day. He usual- ly bets when he has a hand, but he wasn't sure what to do. He took a little bit of time and decided to make a big bet at the pot, so I decided he was probably on a bluff. He bet $3,200, the size of the pot. I was pretty sure I had the best hand, even though I had a lousy pair of 9s with an ace and a queen on the board."

Juanda had read it right and took down the pot with his "lousy pair of 9s." His opponent mucked his cards.

"I wasn't going to lose much money unless he flopped something," Juanda said. "If there had been a lot of players in the hand, I wouldn't have wanted to get involved because I might flop a bad straight. But it was only me and the big blind and the other guy. I might flop two pair.

"If you're an inexperienced player, then you probably shouldn't be playing junk hands like that because then you have to make a lot of tough decisions after the flop."


Overcard: A card that is higher than one or both of the cards in your hand.

Steve Rosenbloom's e-mail address is

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