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Poker Guy | Baldwin reads an opponent like a book

SOMETIMES YOU bet or raise to build a big pot. Sometimes you do it to run an opponent out of a hand.

SOMETIMES YOU bet or raise to build a big pot. Sometimes you do it to run an opponent out of a hand.

Sometimes you're just trying to define an opponent's holdings. And sometimes you can do it so well your opponent might as well play his cards face-up.

Bobby Baldwin, the 1978 World Series of Poker champion who ended the legendary Doyle Brunson's two-year run at the main event, drew J-Q suited at the 2007 WSOP $10,000-buy-in main event at Las Vegas' Rio Hotel. With blinds at $50-$100, Baldwin open raised to $300 from middle position.

"The reason I raised with the Q-J of diamonds is because if I'm going to play that hand, I want to define the hands that the other guys have," said Baldwin, winner of four WSOP bracelets.

The player behind Baldwin called the raise. Everyone else folded.

"The guy who was playing behind me was playing every pot, which tells me he plays just about any two cards that hook up somehow," said Baldwin, CEO of Mirage Resorts and CityCenter, both divisions of MGMMirage. The flop came 5-6-4, two diamonds. Baldwin bet out $700 with two overcards and a flush draw.

"It just so happens that I have a diamond draw, but I could've been betting anything there," Baldwin said. "When he calls, he pretty much defines his hand; he has two 8s, two 9s, two 10s. He can't have queens or jacks because I have Q-J of diamonds, and he'd have reraised me with kings or aces. And I don't think he's drawing to diamonds."

The turn came an offsuit 4. Both players checked.

"I knew he would call me, and I knew he had 8s, 9s or 10s in the hole, and with a board of 5-6-4-4, I didn't have him beat yet."

The river came the queen of clubs, giving Baldwin top pair.

Baldwin made a value bet of $800 into a pot worth more than $2,100 and got paid off by an opponent who mucked his hand when he saw Baldwin's queen.

"If you have the Q-J of diamonds and you raise the pot and someone calls you, you probably have the worst hand," he said. "So, you'd better start trying to figure out how to win the pot. You're not going to win it with a queen and a jack. You either have to steal the pot or get lucky and make some kind of hand."

Table talk

Value bet: A smallish bet that is sized to lure opponents into calling when you believe you have the best hand. *

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