My Favourite Hand: Negreanu vs Deeb (2004)

Daniel Negreanu’s favourite hand is this audacious bluff against veteran pro Freddy Deeb…

Daniel Negreanu: A-7
Freddy Deeb: A-K

Blinds: 800/1,600/200

The set-up: Las Vegas, June 2004. It’s the $10k Championship Poker at the Plaza event and it’s down to two of the initial 68 runners. When the hand begins, Deeb is sitting on around 342k to Negreanu’s 338k. Play has been cagey, with little preflop raising and a lot of tricky manoeuvring postflop, when suddenly a big pot develops…

Daniel Negreanu

I was heads-up with Freddy Deeb in a tournament called Championship Poker at the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas. This was a $10,000 buy-in that took place soon after the 2004 WSOP Main Event. We were both really deep with about 350,000 each and the blinds were only 800/1,600. I called with A-7. Freddy raised 7,000, to make it 8,600, and I figured he had something good. But I had position, so I called.

The flop came K-6-2. He bet 16,000 and my read was that he had Jacks, Queens or tens. I figured I could steal this pot on the turn, so I called. The 4 came on the turn, I bet 30,000, and he called. That surprised me. Freddy knew I played a lot of small cards, and, because I was on the button, he also knew that I could have a lot of hands. I ruled him out of having something strong or else he would have raised me on the turn. So my plan became to maybe bluff the river with a 100,000 bet.

The 4 came on the river. That was an interesting card in that it completed the flush and paired the board. When he bet the river, I knew he had A-K. I thought he was putting me on a worse King. He bet 65,000 on the river and, because it was a scary card, I knew that he knew I couldn’t call him unless I had it. I knew he couldn’t have the nut flush because I had the A. I also knew Freddy would not expect me to bluff on fifth street.

At the same time, I remembered Freddy folding on the river to a small raise, and I figured shoving would have looked suspicious. So instead of going all-in, I raised an amount that made it look like I wanted a call: 100,000. Besides the effect it had on Freddy, that amount kept me from going broke if I was wrong. He looked at me, and based on my previous betting, said, ‘Full house?’ He showed me A-K and mucked. Then I showed him my bluff, hoping to tilt him a little bit.

Freddy’s mistake was not checking the river. He could have check-called 100,000 and won it. In fact, he probably would have called the bet. But instead he got greedy and wanted value. Thirty minutes later, I took down the tournament.

Freddy Deeb

Danny is a fancy player. He made the play and it worked out for him. I respect that kind of play. But he was lucky. Every card he needed to hit the board, hit it. I knew what he had and my plan was to let him bluff off all his chips. I wanted him to raise me on the river.

But the amount he bet, combined with the card that came on the river, were enough to make me fold. That card was like a joker. I knew exactly what was going on and I had a plan for him to do exactly what he did. But then I changed my mind and suddenly folded. The funny thing is that I wanted him to raise. People don’t realise what I was doing, that I was trying to get more money in the pot.

After I folded, Danny showed me his hand. I looked at him and said, ‘Good play.’ What else am I going to tell him? I don’t know how many people believe that I f***ed up by changing my mind. But I f***ed up because every card that made a hand for him came out. It shouldn’t have been that hard. I could have called. But I didn’t.

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