It's a rare strategy to get more than half your stack into the pot and then fold. It's usually a terrible strategy, because unless you're bluffing or drawing dead, you're getting great odds to call off the rest of your stack and try to win the hand by sucking out or by catching an opponent bluffing in an unlikely spot. But if it's unlikely for your opponent to be bluffing, you should probably fold despite the investment.
On Day Two of the World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic main event, I found myself at a tough table full of young professionals I see regularly on the tour. The LAPC is still one of the better-value tournaments in the United States, and also one of the biggest, but the fish are chewed up pretty quickly by the numerous pros who enter.
With blinds at 400-800, I had a stack of about $100,000, and a young pro I'd seen around but didn't know was moved to a seat on my right, bringing along a big stack that covered mine. A couple orbits passed on the table, and he was involved more often than I was. When I found Ac Jd on the button and watched the young pro with the big stack three-bet a player who opened in middle position, I thought I had a nice spot to four-bet. My raise would essentially be a bluff, but I wouldn't necessarily have to fold if my opponent made a small reraise.
The big stack made it $4,500, and I went to $11,500. After the initial raiser folded, the big stack made it $21,500, a little more than a minimum raise. My initial plan was to fold if he made a five-bet, but for such a small amount more, and with both a decent ace and position, I decided to call.
The flop came Ah 2h 5s, and my opponent bet $17,500. I made the call, and the turn brought the 3h. Now he checked, and I had to decide whether to bet or check. If I checked, the river could turn awkward in a number of ways. But if I bet - and I didn't have to bet big - I would gain value some percentage of the time, would avoid being sucked out some percentage of the time, and probably wouldn't be bluffed out.
I decided to bet $25,500 on the turn, and my opponent said, "All in."
That wasn't what I wanted to hear. I had half my stack in the pot and planned to fold to his raise. I thought about whether there was any reason not to. It was quite possible for him to have a strong hand, like suited connectors in hearts, two pair (holding ace-rag and making a play pre-flop), or a big ace with a heart. It also was unlikely for him to be bluffing. He'd have to be running a huge play with something like K-Q offsuit containing a heart that he had five-bet preflop and check-shoved the turn with. Not likely. Most of his range for making this play had me killed.
After counting my chips and staring at my opponent for a while, I relinquished my hand to the muck.
We had a break soon after, and when we returned, a professional named Justin Young sitting across the table said, "You know, I told a bunch of people about that hand during break, and they all said: 'What? I thought Tony Dunst was a nit.'"
I said nothing and let him continue to think I was bluffing.
Tony Dunst is a poker pro and host of "Raw Deal" on World Poker Tour telecasts. Catch him every Sunday night on FSN. Poker Pros will appear every week.