I was reading 2+2, an internet forum for poker players, when I came across a link to what some called the greatest call ever. Someone called with ace high on a 4 straight board and was right. I can think of 2 examples where someone called with 9 high on the river and was correct and both times you could hear in their explanation, that the call was a losing one.
So why all the praise? Well, most people don’t see when these river calls are wrong, which is most of the time, and when they are, the person quietly mucks and doesn’t discuss the hand further. When they are right, it is the topic of discussion for a few hours and analyzed at length. It’s similar to the basketball player who tries to dunk over his 7 foot tall opponent when a simple pass would create a layup for a teammate. When he dunks it, he is on all the highlight reels, gets endorsements and gets to pose, whereas no one remember when you miss, and no one cares when you pass it off to someone else for a layup. You can understand why people try to dunk it.
In poker there are many well known professionals who are well known for their ability to “read” the other players. Most of this comes from being right a few times on television(and being wrong other times that are forgotten about) when in reality, some of the plays and calls they make are downright awful. I was listening to a podcast with Tom Dwan the other day, where he said something to the effect of “those people want you to think they are doing that sort of fancy stuff way more than they actually are so you will play differently.” From his (correct) perspective, you are much more likely to lose money by playing fearfully against your opponents then you are when they call you downcorrectly with ace high or 9 high.