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BLUFFING

The 1978 no-limit hold 'em world championship at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas came down to a battle between owlish Bobby Baldwin of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and sartorial real-estate magnate Crandall Addington of San Antonio, Texas. An hour before the championship ended. Addington had $275,000, and Baldwin, about half as much - $145,000. Among the gamblers along the rail Addington was the clear favorite, but then came the hand that turned everything around. Acting first, Baldwin bet before the flop, and Addington called. Baldwin pushed in another $30,000 worth of chips, perhaps chasing a straight or a diamond flush. Then again he might have had a pair of queens. But Addington promptly called the $30,000. Obviously he had a good hand himself.

On fourth street the ace of diamonds fell - a scary-looking card - and by that time there was $92,000 in the pot. Slowly and deliberately Baldwin pushed in one $10,000 stack of chips, then another and another, until there were nine stacks in the center of the table. Finally, with something of a flourish, Baldwin placed a short stack of $5,000 on top of the others. He was making a $95,000 bet, leaving himself almost broke.

Addington deliberated for a long time. He glanced at the stack of chips, and then at Baldwin for some clue. Was the kid bluffing? If Addington called the bet and won, Baldwin would be just about tapped out. If he called the bet and lost, Baldwin would take a commanding lead. Was the kid bluffing or not? Addington decided he wasn't and threw away his hand. As Baldwin raked in the $92,000 pot, he made sure to flash his two hole cards in Addington's direction. They are the Worthless. Baldwin had indeed been bluffing. Addington seemed to get rattled, and an hour later Baldwin won all the chips and became the 1978 poker champion of the world.

 
 
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