Every player from Joe Public to Daniel Negreanu has attempted to call poker cards before they are revealed, but it so difficult that to do so consistently invites ridicule. Get it right and you look like a wizard, get it wrong and you can look like the biggest fool at the felt.
Doing so may be fraught with danger, but last night on PokerGO’s High Stakes Poker, Jean-Robert Bellande managed to predict his two hole cards, drawing gasps from some of the best poker players in the world.
It’s time we compare JRB’s moment as some sort of poker clairvoyant to others who have managed to put their opponents on exact hands or called even more unpredictable random cards to come.
What Did Bellande Do?
Of all the players to take part in Season 9 of High Stakes Poker, Bellande is the easiest to watch purely for the drama and frequency with which he takes on his opponents. No one is safe from JRB until he’s folded his cards, no matter what he has. One of the most experienced cash game players at the purple felt, the Long Islander was in the mood for fun on Episode 8 of the latest season of dollar-brick action continued.
As commentators AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan described, what Bellande asked for, he got. Pre-flop, Bellande said that all he wanted was two queens. When he revealed them to the table at the end of the hand, Phil Ivey’s reaction was one of the best ever seen in the history of High Stakes Poker. As Daniel Negreanu said, “That is just creepy.”
😱😱😱😱 this freaked everyone out on High Stakes Poker. pic.twitter.com/Yh3VurbSPU
— PokerGO (@PokerGO) April 12, 2022
Bellande calling both cards is impressive, but is it the best card-calling in poker history? It turns out that despite the impressive nature of the clip, it’s not even close. Bellande doesn’t call the suits, and although the odds are long, it’s not like he specified the exact cards. We’ve found even better in the archives.
A History of Calling Cards
Sticking with pocket queens, picking them to jump out of the pack is one thing, but what about if it’s another player’s cards? Well, there are numerous examples of that, so let’s get our head around one.
Daniel Negreanu, who recently told us about the hand that changed his life, calls his opponent’s ladies out of nowhere and saves himself valuable chips by doing so. Kid Poker has enjoyed some highly intuitive moments during his career, but this is right up there.
Romanello Reaches Deep to Save His Stack
Both our previous examples are from cash games, but what about doing it in a tournament? It doesn’t get much bigger than the World Series of Poker Main Event’s feature table, where the eventual Triple Crown winner Roberto Romanello made the fold of his lifetime with jacks full. Here’s how it went down, with Mike Matusow watching along the whole time.
“As the commentary went at the tie, ‘If he lays this down, I’ll move to a Franciscan monastery and become head chef.'”
Seeing Through a WSOP Main Event Champion
Both those previous reads necessitate that the opponent has a huge hand, but what if the player whose cards need to be read for this sort of hero fold are more polarized? It doesn’t get much better than this ridiculous fold four years ago from Ian Steinman against former WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen. The hand took place on the World Poker Tour and left the commentary team stunned.
As it was observed at the time, Steinman made the fold of a lifetime. The fold is only correct if McKeehen has either pocket aces or queen-ten, meaning the latter is so well disguised that Steinman’s ability to make the fold qualifies as wizardry.
Sadly for him, all that hard work may have been enough to get the better of McKeehen, but Steinman would finish second in the event after leading heads-up by 2:1 in chips. Still, $201,428 and the reputation for possibly the sickest fold ever is a fine consolation prize.
— Matt Clark (@MattClarkPoker) March 7, 2018
What Are the Odds?
Finally, what about being able to predict all five community cards? Yes, it really has happened, and on a live stream too. Take a look at the amazing powers of American poker player Troy Clogston during The Lone Star Poker Series.
The reactions around the room at Champions Poker Club in Houston from the other players are incredible. They’re justified on the final two cards, due to the specific card and suit, with the and called out just before they land. The huge action pre-flop gives the mystic player the notion that premium cards are already in the players hands who remain interested.
Choosing the flop cards, even without calling the suit, is extremely unlikely. Add in the exact turn and river cards, and it’s no surprise to see the other players get out of their seats and head for the nearest cold drink.
Bellande choosing both queens to come out of the pack would be likely to happen once in 221 hands. Therefore, if Bellande called out “two queens” each time the dealer shuffled the pack, then playing 30 hands an hour, he’d only have to be at the felt for an average of less than a 9-5 shift to be proven right.
There have been well over a hundred episodes of High Stakes Poker to date, so if there were two predictions in each episode, then we should have already seen a player get it right by now.
Jean-Robert Bellande managed to get the better of Ivey with the pocket queens he called in pre-flop. Whether he’ll be about to see out the next five episodes of High Stakes Poker Season 9 to stay in profit by the time the curtain comes down is still up for debate, but calling cards for this kind of reaction should really catch on among the elite.
Make it a prop bet, but make it happen.