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Aggressive is good, when you win

January 28, 2007|Steve Rosenbloom | Chicago Tribune

Most poker literature suggests -- heck, stresses -- that selective aggressiveness wins no-limit hold 'em tournaments. But the ability to lay down a big hand can be just as important.

With blinds at $100-$200 with a $25 ante at the $25,000-buy-in World Poker Tour Championship at Las Vegas' Bellagio in April, tournament pro Robert Williamson III was on the button with A-10 off-suit. A top European player, David Colclough, with a stack of about $90,000 compared with Williamson's $50,000, raised to $600 from late position.

"He'd been raising a lot of pots," Williamson said. "I smooth-called."

The flop came 10-10-J, rainbow, giving Williamson a set of 10s. Colclough thought for a while before checking.

Williamson said he wondered why Colclough paused. "Maybe he has Q-K here. That's the kind of hand I want, because if he hits his ace, then I'll fill up and win a big pot." Williamson bet $1,200. Colclough check-raised to $3,000.

"I love my hand," said Williamson. "I'm not calling here because I'm afraid. I'm calling because I want to trap. If he has a weak 10, he's going to lead again."

The turn came an off-suit 3. Colclough checked again. Williamson bet $5,700. Colclough made it $14,000.

"He check-raised me again!" Williamson said. "I'm thinking he would've led with a weak 10, so he probably doesn't have a weak 10 here. Could he have two 3s? I also thought he'd make the same play here with K-10, Q-10 or A-10.... I had to smooth-call and see what he does on the river."

The river came a blank 6. Colclough moved all in. Williamson was facing a call for his tournament life.

"I'm trying to get a read," Williamson said. "I kept thinking that if he check-raised on the turn, he has to have two 3s and I gave him a free card and he beat me. I never thought he had jacks full. On the flop when he check-raised and check-raised again on the turn, it indicated to me that it wasn't jacks full because if I have a 10, he wants to get paid off on jacks full, so he'd want to lead.

"I finally laid the hand down. I mucked it after a long debate. I just felt like I was beat."

Colclough won the pot, but never showed his cards. However, Colclough was blogging for his website,, so Williamson called his wife and asked her to check Colclough's site to see if he posted the hand the way many players do when they're in tournaments. Sure enough, his website said he had J-10 of diamonds. Colclough had made 10s full. Williamson had made a great lay-down.

Table talk

Check-raise: To pass on a chance to bet, but when it comes back to you in the same round, you raise the pot.

Rosenbloom is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He can be contacted at

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