The concept of pot control involves betting small or checking and calling a reasonable amount that allows you to see another card that might make your hand. This frequently is the line you'll take when you're trying to get there with a big draw, as aggressive pro David Williams showed in the $25,000-buy-in World Poker Tour Championship at Las Vegas' Bellagio in 2010.
With blinds at $4,000-$8,000 plus a $1,000 ante, Williams raised to $22,000 from middle position with the A-Q of hearts. Chris Moore, a pro who has won two $10,000-buy-in events, called.
The flop came J-10-6, two diamonds, giving Williams a Broadway gutshot straight draw and backdoor flush draw. He checked.
"By checking, I can keep the pot small and maybe hit a king and 'gin' it, maybe hit an ace or a queen, which might be good, or maybe pick up a heart and a bigger draw," said Williams, who has one World Series of Poker bracelet and came in second in the 2004 WSOP main event. "If he also checks, I don't mind because I get a free card. If he bets, the pot's not that big."
Moore made it $32,000. Williams called. The turn came the king of spades, giving Williams "gin." Williams checked.
"I figured that if he had a big hand, he's going to bet, and I was going to check-raise him," said Williams, a pro from the Bodog online site. "I also figured that if he checks behind me, I look weak, and I could still get paid on the river.
"When he checked the turn, I really didn't think he had much of a hand because any hand he has, he's going to want to protect. That's a pretty scary board."
The river came the 5 of hearts.
"I still had the nuts," Williams said. "I thought about going for a check-raise, but I also thought he must not have that strong of a hand because he didn't bet the turn, and he'd check behind. I thought my best chance of getting value was betting it out and getting paid.
"The pot had $125,000 or so, and I figured $50,000 was enough that it wouldn't scare him away, and it might be small enough that he could make a bluff-raise. He tanked for a while. I was just hoping he'd call."
Instead, Moore raised to $140,000. Williams, who had Moore covered, moved all in. After a while, Moore called off his stack, then mucked his cards when Williams showed his straight.
"The key thing I did was check the flop so the pot wouldn't get taken away from me," said Williams, who went on to win the event and more than $1.5 million. "If I bet the flop and he decides to raise me, I can't play anymore because I wouldn't be getting odds to draw. I wouldn't get to see the turn."
Broadway gutshot straight draw: Needing one card to complete an ace-high straight.