Every month, a prominent national poker pro analyzes a hand between two poker stars from around the world. In this issue, our columnist and FLOW Team founder Fellipe Nunes analyzes the hand that was decisive for the outcome of the WSOP’s most expensive tournament, the One Drop High Roller.
Fedor Holz – 33,875,000 in chips (Q♦9♦)
Dan Smith – 57,650,000 in chips (Q♠Q♥)
Blinds: 400,000/800,000 with ante of 100,000
First of all thanks to Card Player for inviting me and saying my limit is unlimited compared to these two beginners. So I will do my best.
Dan Smith has a very important advantage over his opponent here with 71 BBS. For me, I start by having a plan for how to deal with the situation you’re in before thinking about the hand itself. With this chip advantage, I try not to make complicated decisions about my opponents and only pick the best chips to play against. My advice: keep the edge and improve a bit so he’s less uncomfortable than he is now.
With 42 BBs, Fedor Holz is a good chip to use his creativity to change the momentum of heads-up (HU). With this stack, he can abuse 3-bets and check-raises and a series of aggressive moves to demoralize his opponents and start to dominate the HU while still having a small stack.
Pre-FlopLumber increased from BTN to 1,800,000. From the big blind, Smith re-raised to 6,000,000. Holz checks. Fellipe Nunes: No related content to add. 9-8o really doesn’t exist in my HU preflop 3-betting range. I usually pick hands that give me better post-flop conditions, like connectors and naipadas. In HU, opponents call 3-bets much more often. It’s also important to note that HU also has higher post-flop resistance, so I prefer hands that perform better in determining my 3-betting range. I don’t consider Fedor’s 4-bet because he has position and his stack still allows him to easily play 3-bet pots. It’s important to note that without a blocker, 4-betting tends to be less successful over time. Flop: 8♣ 6♠ J♥ (Pot: 12,200,000)Smith bets 4,100,000. Wood pays. Fellipe Nunes: The structure of the flop was very interesting for both players. I see Smith’s continuation bet as a way of controlling the hand, taking away current and future hands when Holz’s pair is below 8, or even on certain types of draws or backdoor high-flush. value. Simth can make some wins with this range, as well as bluff the turn and river with Holz’s range. When I say future value, I mean when his pair will develop, because this type of board gives his second pair some certainty. I’m a big fan of checking and will always check-call until the river unless my hand has gotten too big. I believe this is a more “peaceful” way to play against such a good opponent. Calling of wood is standard. He has a pair, which is usually the best hand in HU, and a backdoor flush draw, which greatly improves his hand equity when the turn comes hearts. Turn: 6♣ (Pot: 20,400,000)Smith called. Wood bet 5,400,000. Smith pays. Fellipe Nunes: A brutal turn for Smith, wonderful for Holz as it strengthens Smith’s second pair and makes him more comfortable in the hands . However, Holz knows he’s actually crazy – in HU, a 3-bet like this is worth more than it would normally be.I think Smith has planned to examine most of the curves. But the biggest problem with his pre-flop 3-bets, flop continuation bets and turn checks was that he built up a pot that was too big for his hand. And when you’re up against someone as strong as Holz, if you put yourself in that position, you can’t expect success. Even if Holz didn’t 3-bet, Smith would be out of position because Holz would have a very interesting opportunity to bluff or extract value from a possible jack. If I were wood, I would bet on this move every time. I believe that after 3-betting pre-flop and c-betting on the flop, only a very small portion of Smith’s range will check-fold. Interestingly, both players have perfect bet sizes so far. River: 9 ♦ (Pot: 31,200,000)Smith called. Holz moved all-in for 18,275,000. Fellipe Nunes: Smith has a big problem here because the way he plays makes straights almost out of reach. With a hand that has the potential to make a straight, he’ll bet the turn instead of check-calling. So if you think about Smith’s range of values, he’s usually around 8 or J. Because the same type of 3 and draw sequence will still bet on the turn. This is where it gets difficult. You know your opponents know that your range is from medium to weak value hands. Your opponent is one of the best in the world and is able to make good use of this information.When you think of Fedor’s range, you’re less likely to think of weak range. His reach is very difficult and polarizing, but I’m finding it hard to get him in that situation without leaving. Even if part of the range is “air” because he knows what Smith’s range is, it’s not a good idea to make his opponent fold hands like the 8 or the Jack, which makes the situation perfect to extract value from his three bets . Smith pays. Fellipe Nunes: For me, Dan Smith lost his hand when fear on the river killed his sanity. His gestures, the way he breathed, everything revealed his extreme discomfort. When emotion trumps reason, you’ve lost the game.We could discuss his hand planning, his 3-betting range pre-flop and many other factors, but the most important lesson here is learning to breathe and seek reason when fear gets the better of us. Whether or not calling on the river was the best thing to do, I think it’s more important than Dan Smith’s lack of control over his decisions.