When in need of something to write about, describing big calls of bluffs usually serve pretty well, and it's fun for me to recount them. So, here's a couple good ones from the past month:
I was in the big blind with 73o in a 5-10 NL game at Hollywood Park with no maximum buyin. I was in seat 6 and had a little over $400. There were two limpers, so I got to see a flop, which came T43 with two diamonds. Everyone checked to Fernando, a regular in this game who I'm reasonably familiar with. He bet $45. This looked suspiciously like a bluff, and I called with my pair of 3's. On the turn, an 8 came (not a diamond), and I bet out $100, trying to end the hand here. Fernando called immediately. The fact that he didn't stop to think even for a couple seconds made me pretty sure he was on a draw, probably diamond but maybe a straight draw like J9 or even QJ. The other possibility is that he had a little pair like 66 and called hoping I was on a draw, but even this type of hand would probably have to think, and might have raised before the flop. The fact that he didn't even consider raising here on the turn suggested to me he didn't have a ten. If he had a ten, he would have to consider raising because it is most likely the best hand at this point, but is very vulnerable to getting outdrawn on the river. Also, stronger hands such as a set or two pair would fear a flush or straight draw and would probably raise as well.
The river was a 2, not a diamond. At this point the pot was about $315. Fernando pushed all-in, and I had $375 left. Unless he was holding 22, A5, or 56, there is no way the river could have helped him. Since these hands are very unlikely here, and he didn't need to consider a raise on the turn, his attempt to represent a big hand on the river wasn't very convincing. I called. He turned over J6d, and my 73 took the $1000 pot.
This next one was a bit more nerve-wracking for me. I was playing in the same game (seat 6 again, actually) on a different day. A 75 year old white guy who I'd never played against before was in seat 2, and he had been playing very recklessly, with lots of bluffs and calls with weak hands. Still, he seemed to have some idea what he's doing, making decent reads. He just liked action too much.
I was the big blind again, and the old guy was in late position. I had about $1500, and he had me covered. After a limper or two, he raised to $50. With AKo, I reraised him to $170, and he was the only caller. I thought he probably had AQ, AJ, KQ, or a little pair. Maybe a suited connector. Really though, he could have almost anything.
Flop(~$350): 369. There's no way I'm going to get him to fold a pocket pair, so there's not much reason for me to bet here. I check. He bets $175. At this point in the hand, he's going to bet no matter what he's holding. I'm hoping here that he has something like AQ or KQ and is just hoping I'll fold. With this guy, even J2 seems possible. If he does have a pair, I still have 6 outs. If he has AQ or KQ, I stand to win a big pot if we both pair on the turn (of course, there are only 2 cards that would accomplish this). I call.
Turn(~$700): 7. I check again. He bets $275, which is less than half the pot. I have the feeling that he senses weakness in my checks, and probably puts me on AK, which is indeed what I hold. He probably figures I'll fold if he bets anything, but that I'll call or raise if I have a big pair. Betting small here buys him a nice pot if I fold, and allows him to get out cheaply if I raise. If he has a big hand I think he would make a bigger bet here, hoping I have an overpair. Anyway, I just call.
River(~$1250): 3. I check again. He bets $500. At this point it seems likely he actually has something, probably pocket 6's, 7's or 9's, and I misread his small bet on the turn. Still, with a little pair on the board (33), he can no longer confidently bet a two-pair hand like 67, because if I do have an overpair, he'll lose. Although I thought there was at least a 60% chance he had me beat here (with either a set or an overpair, maybe even the 3), his $500 bet was still small for this pot. I was being offered 3.5-1 odds, so if I had at least a 23% chance to win, then calling was the right play. I thought my chances were around 30%. I reluctantly put in $500, expecting my winning session to become a losing one. However, the old guy turned over AQ. I showed my winning AK and was sent the $2250 pot. Some of the other players muttered that they would have to remember not to try to bluff me.
In other news, I have a lead that could result in an offer of a job as a prop player at the Bicycle casino. In other words, I might get paid to play, thus fitting more solidly into the definition of "professional" poker player. Supposedly the graveyard shift is the one most likely to have an opening, so my sleeping schedule would need to revert back to staying up all night. On the other hand, this would mean I probably wouldn't have to fight through terrible traffic.