Your head vs. your gut. It is one of the constant battles in poker. Your brain might be telling you that you cannot call the bet that your opponent just made, while your instincts are telling you something else. Nowhere, it seems, is this more important than in figuring out when your opponent is bluffing, and nowhere is it more difficult than when you are holding a bad hand that still might be the best.

In the Poker Superstars Invitational II, Mike Sexton was dealt K-4 offsuit in the small blind, a hand that most players would fold or raise in hopes that the big blind had garbage and would lay it down. But Sexton, host of the World Poker Tour broadcasts, just completed the other half of the bet, willing to play looser in a structure where the blinds were huge and rose quickly.

In the big blind, Huck Seed, the 1996 World Series of Poker champion, checked his option with J-8 offsuit.

The flop came 3-3-3, helping neither player. Sexton checked. Seed bet out $55,000, and Sexton called. “My thought process on that hand was, I really felt if he had ace-high or better, he wouldn’t bet it,” Sexton says. “He’d just check it down, hoping he could win it.”

The turn came the queen of clubs. Both players checked. The river came the 6 of clubs. Suddenly, the board of 3-3-3-Q-6 looked scary for a lot of reasons – the three clubs made a flush possible, and the three treys made for a potential full house if a player had a pocket pair. So, it would seem hard for Sexton to call Seed’s $150,000 bet on the river with a king-high.

“Maybe he’s hoping I have ace-high or king-high and would lay it down,” Sexton says. “That’s the reason he bet. I’m sure he put me on one of those two hands when I called on the flop when it came 3-3-3. When it goes check-check on the turn, the truth is, I thought he was making a play at the pot and wanted to bluff at it. I felt like my king-high was the best hand.”

Sexton combined his view of Seed’s betting pattern with the instincts he has honed over more than 25 years of playing poker professionally, and he called the bet to take down the big pot with that measly king-high. “It’s based on his betting pattern, and it’s also based in instincts,” Sexton says. “In golf, they say you have to trust your swing. In poker, you have to trust your instincts. My instincts were telling me that he was bluffing this hand, that he didn’t have a big hand, that he didn’t have an ace-high because he would’ve checked it down. So, I went with my gut feeling there and called him with a king-high, and it paid off.”