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7 of Poker’s Most Amazing Hero Calls

August 30, 2014

There’s a thin line between making a hero call and looking like a complete moron, and it’s a line many of us are guilty of crossing. Sometimes you just can’t shake that feeling that your opponent has nothing and it can be a costly lesson to find out otherwise. Now and then, however, sticking to your guns can lead to that holy grail of reveals – the successful hero call. Coos of admiration around the table, a gobsmacked look on the face of the bluffer, and the omnipotent sensation that you can suddenly read people’s souls are what drive our determination to make them. Here, we take a look at eight of the finest hero calls ever televised.

Lykov vs Tolokonnikov

Eastern Europeans have a reputation in the poker world as being ballsy and aggressive, so it was no surprise that when two Russians went head-to-head at EPT Kiev the pot quickly escalated to 6-figures despite neither playing hitting so much as bottom pair.

Credit to Tolokonnikov for firing off all three bullets with 7-high, but unfortunately for him Lykov was simply too assured that his king-high was good despite an ace on the flop.

Veldhuis vs Brunson

The erratic nature of professional poker players can lead to some sticky situations. You only need look at some of the crazy prop bets these guys come up with to see that gambling on just about anything is second nature to some of them. This is where the straddle – a bet in the dark that doubles the blinds – comes into play.

On an episode of High Stakes Poker Lex Veldhuis straddled with what turned out to be a meagre 9-2 and veteran Doyle Brunson joined the party with a semi-respectable Q-7 suited. With Brunson aware that Veldhuis could have any two and Veldhuis knowing that Brunson could be bullying him due to that very fact, what should have been an insignificant pot quickly blossomed into a very important one…

Mercier vs Koskas

Becoming Bluff Magazine’s Player of the Year is no mean feat. 2009’s winner, Jason Mercier, is now known around the globe after an incredibly successful year at the green felt. Even pros have to start somewhere though, and Mercier wasted no time in establishing himself at one of his first major final tables.

When considering how good a hero call really is, you have to factor in the magnitude of the situation. That is what makes Mercier’s belief in his pair of 5s (on a paired board with straight options) so remarkable. Poker at its finest.

Schwartz vs Romanello

If there’s one man that loves the sound of his own voice it’s Luke Schwartz. The bulky Brit is well-versed in making his presence felt at the table with a series of aloof put-downs and the deceiving appearance of indifference. Roberto Romanello found himself on the end of one of Schwartz’s monologues with the unfortunate outcome of a hero call.

Despite only holding second pair in a pot containing tens of thousands of dollars, Schwartz was able to talk himself (after a long, long, long time) into making the call, picking up the cash against Romanello’s ace-high.

Antonius vs Laak

Once again we’re revisiting High Stakes Poker. The make-up of the show means that everybody there is not only an experienced professional with money to gamble but often close friends familiar with one another’s playing style. This leads to a great deal of impressive (or crazy) calls and confusingly huge pots, such as the one between Patrik Antonius and Phil Laak.

The 3-2-4 flop looks innocuous enough but with Laak holding two over cards, a straight draw and a backdoor flush draw to Antonius’ top pair (vulnerable as it may be), the pot quickly develops into a stunning $287,400 windfall.

Sexton vs Matusow

The bravery required to call a pair of threes on a 9-Q-3-A-J board at the grandest stage of all is commendable to say the least. That is exactly what Mike Sexton did at the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions against the guy everybody loves to hate, Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow, before eventually winning the tournament overall.

Matusow has a somewhat legitimate angle on the hand, chasing the second-nut flush draw, but quite how Sexton managed to stick around for so long with an innocent-looking bottom pair remains a mystery. Kudos to him.

Antonius vs Mouly

There are times at the table when you get into a spot where there is seemingly no way for you to win. You’ve gotten to the river and it’s clear nobody has anything, but your opponent gets the bet in first. You both know one another has nothing. You can’t raise in case they jam it all in, you can’t call because you don’t have so much as A-or K-high, and so you’re left to bitterly fold knowing your opponent was bluffing. For Patrik Antonius – making his second appearance on our list – this simply wouldn’t do.

A standard check-check-check on the flop and turn meant that Cyril Mouly’s overbet on the river stank of a bluff. With just Q-high you’d think this would be one of the aforementioned situations where Antonius had to fold, but somehow he found the resolve to teach Mouly a lesson.
Watch here.

About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.