When it comes to fearless bluffs, few if any, poker players compare to Tom “durrrr” Dwan. In fact, he’s had so many bluffs he needed his own editorial to cover them all, which you can find here. That being said, he’s not the only one with balls of steel, as the following list of bluffs will show you. Some of them happened in cash games, some of them happened in large tournaments, and all of them are fantastic because each time the player should have lost. But that’s what makes poker such a worldwide sensation—in the words of Randy Pausch, “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
Yukon Bluffs The Tiger Woods of Poker
One of the gutsiest plays in the history of High Stakes Poker occurred when “Yukon” Brad Booth made a $300,000 bluff with a gut-shot straight draw against the incomparable Phil Ivey. To make matters even crazier, Ivey held pocket kings. It’s easy for you to watch it on TV and say you would make the call with cowboys, it’s quite another to stare at two $150k bricks of cash. With one bold move, Booth announced himself to the poker world.
Lex Veldhuis Owns The Whole Table
The title of this Youtube clip is “How To Crush Souls,” and after watching this video I’m inclined to agree with that statement, because Lex absolutely dominated his whole table. Starting with Eli Elezra, who claimed that Lex was “the best player in the field today,” Veldhuis delivered four vicious bluffs. What’s more, he showed the bluff every single time! To top things off, soon after Lex called down an all-in shove from an opponent—whom he had already bluffed previously—with K4 preflop… and he was ahead.
Phil Ivey Wrecks Lex Veldhuis
Easy come, easy go, eh Lex? This time around, it’s Phil Ivey running over Lex Velduis during an episode of High Stakes Poker. Phil suspects Lex is making a play on Barry Greenstein, and he makes a play right back, five-bet shoving all in for $197k preflop. It’s good to be king.
Jack Straus Bluffs With 7-2
During a high stakes cash game in the 1980s, 1982 Main Event champion Jack “Treetop” Straus, the very same man who gave meaning to the famous poker phrase “a chip and a chair,” decided to play 7-2 offsuit. What followed would forever be immortalized in poker lore, and that’s without it ever being on television.
Playing heads up on a 7-3-3-2 board, Straus made a huge turn bet, causing his opponent, who had initially raised the flop, to pause and contemplate his next move. After a few minutes, Straus offered his opponent a deal: for $25, he could see one of Straus’ hole cards. His opponent gladly paid the $25, and Straus showed a two. His opponent folded an overpair after deducing that the only reason Straus would ever show one card would be because he actually held two deuces.
David Benyamine Bluffs $80k on the Turn With 7-2
It doesn’t take much to separate Jamie Gold from his money on the poker table, but this bluff by David Benyamine is pure magic. He fires out on every single street, and correctly deduced that Jamie Gold is on nothing but air, to the surprise of virtually no one. You really have to love Gold’s commentary during the hand:
– “You hit a set of eights?”
– “A set of threes?
– “I know you got a pair
– “Now you hit your set [of jacks]”
Bill Klein Tricks Phil Galfond
Against an amateur, this play would have been a disaster, but against a pro like Phil Galfond, this hand is a bit of genius from Bill Klein. Klein credibly represents a big hand like two pair or a set on the turn, and his $150k bet on the river is exactly what he would have done if he did in fact have a full house. It’s hard to find fault with OMGClayAiken on this one.
“8-3 is the nuts, baby!”
While this hand may seem rather standard in today’s poker world, in the mid 2000s it was a different story. Scotty Nguyen not only shows the bluff to Humberto Brenes (and the rest of the table), but he also drops several memorable lines, including, “You can’t call, too much for you,” and “I thought we were playing blackjack.”
The Bluff of the Century
Not only is this a gutsy move considering the stakes—heads up for the WSOP Main Event championship—it also happens to be perhaps the most important bluff in poker history as a result of what it sparked—the evolution of poker and the online poker boom. With one move of his chips Chris Moneymaker seized control of the 2003 Main Event and opened the door for a million aspiring poker players to follow their dreams.
Phil Ivey vs. Paul Jackson: Bluff vs. Bluff
At the time, Phil Ivey wasn’t the living poker legend that he is today, but this hand certainly helped to cement that status.
Following the 2002 World Series of Poker, Ivey, who had won three bracelets, was being dubbed “The Phenom” by the media and poker world at large. Three years later, Ivey found himself playing English pro Paul Jackson heads up at the 2005 Monte Carlo Millions for $1,000,000.
Somehow, despite only holding queen high, Ivey manages to sniff out Jackson’s four-bet bluff on the river and five-bet all-in. In the words of the announcer, “Watching this hand was like witnessing great art. It’s absurd and wonderful at the same time. It’s just mind-blowing what we just witnessed from Phil Ivey.” Honestly, we couldn’t agree more, which is why this is the greatest bluff on our list.