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Hand 2 Hand Combat -- Stuart Rutter

Stuart Rutter Analyses His Decisions in a Hand With World Champion Peter Eastgate

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Mar 02, 2009

Event European Poker Tour Prague main event
Players 570
First Prize €774,000

Stuart Rutter - 12,025
Peter Eastgate - 12,000

Blinds 100/200

Stuart RutterStuart Rutter: Whenever there's a spare seat in these tournaments, you start to feel a little bit nervous, because it's always the superstars who turn up late. Who comes on the microphone to announce the start of the tournament? Peter Eastgate, and it dawns on us as he moves across to our table. On one level this is a sick player who we all know is really good, but the big thing that we were all trying to think about was what affect the World Series win was going to have. He actually did a very admirable thing and played really well - disciplined, concentrated stuff - but we had these first couple of hours where we were trying to gauge what he was doing.

Rutter is big blind for 200. Eastgate is second to speak and raises to 525. Rutter holds A 3 and calls.

This isn't a hand I'd always play, but it's going to be a little easier to play against him, especially if I flop a flush draw because I'd basically have to go with it against such an aggressive Scandinavian player.

Flop: A Q 8 (1,150 pot)

Rebecca McAdam:
Where do you think you are in the hand now?

This is a decent flop, because I've flopped the top pair, but from an emotional point of view, this is about the hardest flop you could get because I just could never feel comfortable about my actions here.

Rutter checks; Eastgate bets 1,050.

There's no point in leading out because it kind of advertises that I've got a marginal hand, and there's no point in feeding the lions, but I am always calling that.

How do you separate the anxiety of knowing a player's history or reputation from making decisions?

What I've realised is what you should be passionate about in poker is not your results at all, it's whether you get decisions right. That will also help with your tells - it means you're far less emotional about the cards you pick up or the flops you hit because you're worrying about getting the decisions right. It's pretty clear on this one that the decision is going to get tough at some point.

Turn: 3 (3,250 pot)

Rutter checks; Eastgate bets 2,500.

RM: What kind of options do you have?

Well, one is to call his bet for 2,500, or the other quite simply is to go all-in, and there's just not much value to going all-in here because I think it lets him release the one hand that I'm trying to get value on - A-K. And of course by flat calling the turn, I give him the opportunity to do what I'm hoping he'll do, fire another big bluff on the river.

What were you putting him on here?

I'm still putting him on a massive range, and he obviously could have a strong hand, this is the mistake people make - just because someone's a really good aggressive player doesn't necessarily mean they bluff all the time. If he flopped a set of aces he's going to play it in exactly the same way. He could very well have air here and be trying to double barrel me because there aren't too many hands I can call with. I mean if that turn came a 4 rather than a 3, then it's really tough for me to call because I know if I do, I might be forced into calling the river as well.

River: 7 (8,250 pot)

Rutter checks; Eastgate moves all in.

SR: It's actually a third diamond, which has come runner runner. You can't be too worried about a flush here because otherwise you'd worry about every hand. There's no value in betting so I check. Something very strange happens here, he goes all-in incredibly quickly, and in a very splashy way.

How did you read that?

I decided in the end that he was trying to represent that he was bluffing, and therefore, he was strong. I really start worrying about my two pair - against this bet there really isn't too much I can beat, apart from a stone cold bluff.

Before this hand, did you know what kind of a player he was?

He'd been splashing around but in different scenarios. He'd three-bet before the flop but it was pretty clear that he was doing that light. He actually never had to play a turn before this hand which is really frustrating, so it was difficult to get a read on his turn and river play.

What did you decide?

This is where my thinking goes horribly wrong -he's either got a strong hand that has me beat, or he's got a bluff which I can beat. There's one other possibility -he's got A-K, which I can beat. The decision becomes would he value bet A-K so strong here and on the third barrel. The problem with this guy is he's such a good player that he really expands all his ranges, and gets every smidgen of value he can. Maybe it's a mistake for me to even try and get a read off the world champion, but you just have to decide and go with it. I decided there was a comment I could make which might get a reaction, so I turned to him and said, "I've got more than you think I have." That comment is designed exactly at A-K, because it's telling him I can beat it. It's probably me imagining things, but I could swear he looked a little more uneasy at that point. I eventually made the call. It was the biggest moment of relief when he said, "It's good," and walked away from the table.

What did he have?

Following a lot of confusion -a) about what he had and b) about whether he had to turn his hand over, someone very reliably told me after that they'd seen A-K. It was almost a disappointment for me because if he didn't have that, then I had called a big bluff. It's probably one he managed to get wrong but for all the right reasons.

RM: What was his reaction to your cards?

Unfortunately, he's young and Scandinavian so he showed absolutely no reaction at all ... in that classic Scandinavian voice "hmm it's good!" But those words were probably the two nicest words I've ever heard.

Stuart Rutter Hand 2 Hand Combat