There are few better feelings in poker than making a correct hero call. Sure getting away with a bluff is a good feeling, but unless you table your hand, the moment is private. But making a correct hero call can create a celebration around the table, as we saw in a hand between Phil Laak and Brian Rast at the Premier League.

The main factors you’re considering for a hero call are your opponents hand ranges, and bluffing tendencies. Obviously, being familiar with your opponent is important for times like these; Rast and Laak are two long time friends who often play together, so it’s likely Rast has seen Laak make these types of plays before.

The hand plays out straight-forward until he river: Rast makes a light three-bet in position with ace-eight suited, and Laak calls with a hand that’s obscured by the cameras. The 6-4-3 flop misses Rast completely, and he checks behind Laak. The action is repeated on the turn, when both players check a 10. The river brings another 10, making for a dry, paired board that’s unlikely to have connected for either player. At this point, Laak knows Rast can’t have much of a hand, because he would’ve bet the flop or turn with anything better than ace-high. So he elects to make a huge bluff, by betting six times the size of the pot with just queen-high.

I think the absurd sizing is one reason Rast eventually calls; if Laak had a value hand—like trip tens—he probably makes a smaller bet that expects to be called. Rast also knows from experience that Laak uses over-bets in a variety of situations, and that he’s capable of risking that much money on a bluff (I’ve played a moderate amount of cash with Laak, and seen him make similar plays in that limited sample, so I’m confident Rast has seen it before too).

Rast reluctantly mashes his chips into the middle, and the table explodes when they realize his ace-high is good. Thats the real pay-off for a hero call; not the money, but the glory.

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