LAPT5 Colombia: Value bet or bluff?

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lapt-promo.gifThe tournament is down to two tables now, a time when the chip-rich have a tendency to get chip-richer and the chip-poor have a tendency to get eliminated. The psychological battles are more intense now as players explore that fine line between bluffing and value-betting.

Allow Hernan Villa to demonstrate. Sitting in the big blind, he called a raise to 25,000 from Ariel Celestino. Villa, you might remember, started the day 2nd in chips. Celestino was dead last but has put on a spirited show of poker in the first two hours of Day 3.

So there they are, both dressed in blue shirts today, taking a flop of J♥2♥A♠. The out-of-position Villa checked to Celestino, who made the expected continuation bet of 32,000. Villa, as deliberate as anyone remaining in the field, cut 32,000 from his stack, six blue chips and two yellow chips. He paused, he pondered, he pontificated. Finally he lifted the chips in one hand, appeared to show them to Celestino as if to say, "See? I'm calling," and then called the 32,000.

The turn was the 7♦. Villa waited at least a minute before he checked the action to Celestino. This time Celestino bet a little more - 34,000, to be exact. Again Villa went through his thinking routine before he called the bet.

When the river fell J♦, Villa waved his hands over his chips and said, "All in." Celestino, chin resting in his hand, made no immediate response. As an observer, you got the sense that his hand was weak, but not so weak as to warrant an automatic fold. He thought for several minutes. In the end, he flicked his cards towards the dealer, unwilling to go broke in this particular hand.


Ariel Celestino

Villa was delighted. He turned over 7♥3♥, a busted flush draw that made a pair of 7s. He must have thought he was bluffing, but when Celestino opened 6♦6♠, Villa's "bluff" was revealed to be the thinnest of value bets.

Regardless, the end result was the same. Celestino, the poorest guy to begin Day 3, became a little poorer. And Villa, one of the richest, became a little richer. That's just the way it goes when there are two tables left and the short stacks are fighting to survive to those final table payouts.


Speaking of the rich getting richer, at Table 3 the start-of-day chip leader, Ruben Ospina, got Ricardo Lopez to commit all his chips on a flop of K-J-3. Lopez showed K-9 for top pair, but Ospina flopped a set of jacks. The turn 9 gave Lopez two pair and two outs to the best full house but the river was a brick. Lopez hit the rail and Ospina added more chips to his monster stack.


With two hours of play in the books, the starting field of 25 is already down to 14. Play will stop after another six eliminations.


Remember Peru's Gerardo Rodriguez, the player who won eight seats to this event? He's still in the tournament, with a healthy stack to boot. Imagine the damage he could be doing if there were seven more of him, playing the other seven seats.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in Medellin