Untitled Document Sometimes, it’s really simple: Pressure your opponents until they give. That’s what power poker is about – acting aggressively to take control and to make it expensive for an opponent to draw out on you.

Robert Williamson III, the wonderfully engaging pro from Texas whose father used to take him to Las Vegas as a kid and talked the school into considering them "educational trips," gave a lesson in power poker during this year’s World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio.

With the blinds at $200-$400 and antes at $50, the player under the gun, an amateur, limped. European pro David Colclough raised it $600. Paul Darden re-raised it $4,000 on the button. Action is on Williamson in the big blind with K-2 of spades.

"It seems like a weird hand for me to play, but the way the hand came down, I had to play it," said Williamson, whose new DVD is From the Kitchen Table to the Final Table.

"The pot is big now, and Darden could be making a late-position steal."

Williamson called, as did the two others. The flop came 6-7-J of spades, giving Williamson the second-nut flush. He checked. The amateur bet $1,500, not much of a bet into a $20,000 pot. Colclough folded. Darden raised it a meek $500, reinforcing Williamson’s feeling of a late-position steal.

So, Williamson raised it to $8,000. His aggressive betting could win the pot right there, or at least make Darden declare his real strength. The amateur to Williamson’s left called. Darden folded.

The turn came a harmless 3 of hearts. Williamson had pushed the betting all along. Now, before doing it again, he must consider what kind of hand the amateur is calling his big bets with and what part of his stack he’s willing to risk.

"I’m trying to think: Does he have a set? Could he have the ace of spades?" said Williamson, an analyst on GSN’s "Poker Royale: Celebrities vs. Poker Pros." "I thought he might have a big pair, like two kings or two queens, and he’ll pay it off. He’d paid off a lot of people with big pairs.

"I’m going to make him put in a big enough bet that I’m going to punish him to draw at the ace of spades in case he has two aces with the ace of spades. I don’t want him drawing for free."

So, with about $13,000 already in the pot, Williamson moved all in for $12,900. After thinking for a while, the amateur mucked his cards – two red kings.

Continuing to play power poker was Williamson’s only real option, and here’s why: If he didn’t bet enough on the turn to run out his opponent and a spade fell on the river, then where was he? Williamson put his opponent on a big pair, and that easily could’ve been aces, and that easily could’ve been the nut flush.

So, Williamson avoided that pressure by betting big enough to put it on his opponent.


Late-position steal: Making a raise or re-raise from a spot near the button to represent a big hand, when the player might actually have a weak hand, but is taking advantage of a position that allows him to act last.

© 2005, Chicago Tribune.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.