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Hand 2 Hand Combat -- Hayden Fortini

Hayden ‘nipsman’ Fortini Capitalizes on a Misstep by Online Legend Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Sep 04, 2009


Event PStars Super Tuesday

Craig Tapscott: This is the biggest buy-in no-limit tournament on PokerStars each week, and some of the best players worldwide compete in it. At what stage of the tournament are we when this hand comes up?

Hayden “nipsman” Fortini: There were two tables left. I believe there were 18 players remaining. There are some good regulars at my table, including “shaun deeb” (we eventually got heads up for the win), “JohnnyBax,” and “Hikespett.” Those were the only players I recognized. And I’ve really had no metagame history from past events with JohnnyBax.

CT: So, how do you think he perceives you?

HF: He probably views me as a random player, because this was my first time playing this tournament and I’m a new player in higher-stakes MTTs [multitable tournaments]. I, on the other hand, am well aware of Bax. I know a little about his game and have seen a few training videos of him on PokerXFactor. So, I have a reasonable idea of how he views the game. This was a new table, so no history had been built up to this point.

Nipsman raises to 3,800 from under the gun with the AClub Suit AHeart Suit. JohnnyBax defends from the big blind.

CT: Each step of the way, can you also get into Bax’s head and let us know what you think he’s thinking?

HF: Sure. He decides to call out of the big blind. I opened for 2.5 times the big blind, so he’s getting laid pretty good odds. I don’t mind his call. Some regulars will never call out of position there, but I don’t think it’s bad. He could stack me if he hits his hand, and he also may have plans of taking the pot away on certain flops.

CT: Would you have done the same if the positions were reversed? And what kind of flops do you think he’s looking for to take it away from you?

HF: Sometimes I will, and sometimes I won’t. It depends on what type of player I think I’m up against, and my read on him. For example, if a tighter, more straightforward player opens from under the gun, I’m much more likely to call, because if I get a big flop, my hand is disguised and he will not be able to get away from his overpair. If the flop comes bad for his A-K or A-Q, I will often be able to take the pot away on the turn when he shows weakness. I would not call against somebody with a wide range who is aggressive, because he will put me in more tough spots than I will put him in.

Flop: QClub Suit 3Heart Suit 2Spade Suit (pot: 9,700)
JohnnyBax checks. Nipsman bets 4,900. JohnnyBax raises to 14,000.

CT: Wow. Check-raised by one of the best online players in the game. What’s your read?

HF: In that we don’t have any history together, it was an interesting spot. I knew that 3-3 and 2-2 were in his range, and those are the only two hands that I’m worried about. I can almost rule out Q-Q. I think that 90 percent of the time, he would’ve three-bet that hand. And if he had something like K-Q, A-Q, or Q-J, he would just go into check-call mode on this flop.

CT: What’s your best option moving forward?

Hayden Fortini
HF: Well, I have three options on the flop as to how I want to proceed:

1. I can just shove over his check-raise. This, in my mind, is the worst option, because I’m getting snapped [snap-called] by a set of deuces or threes. Most importantly, I’m losing value from random air and straight draws that will fire a second, and possibly third, barrel.
2. I can minimum-reraise, making it something like 24,000 to go and leaving 26,000 behind. I do not like this option, either, as I don’t believe he will come back over the top of me very often with air, because he will see that a random player has put in half of his stack, and it will probably signal a big hand in his mind.
3. I can flat-call his check-raise, hoping that he will continue with his bluffs. In that I’m a random player, he probably assumes that he can push me off a lot of my hands this late in the tournament. But I wanted to give him an opportunity to make a mistake in the hand. This is by far the best option. Bax likes to defend lighter than most out of the big blind. So, his range had a lot of suited connectors in it, and was not just pocket pairs.

Nipsman calls.

CT: OK. Jump back into Bax’s head now.

HF: I’m not in love with his check-raise on the flop. My bet of half the pot does look weak. The stack sizes are not great for Bax, either, because if I decide that he has nothing, I have the perfect stack to reraise over the top for all of my chips. It’s also hard to represent a big hand on this board, given the action. But if he thinks that I’m a random player and am playing scared because of the money that’s at stake, I really do not mind the play.

Turn: 8Club Suit (pot: 37,700)
JohnnyBax bets 14,500. Nipsman calls.

Hand2Hand Combat
HF: This board now is as dry as they get. I just call again, because I feel that I’m getting called by sets and missing out on a possible river bluff.

CT: What could he be holding?

HF: I don’t think he has a queen in his hand at this point, and I do not put him on two pair. He would not defend with any two-pair combinations out there. His bet on the turn, in his mind, really puts me to the test if I decided to call his raise on the flop with a hand like 10-10. He also would think I’m folding A-K if I peeled the flop.

River: 3Spade Suit (pot: 66,700)
JohnnyBax shoves all in, covering nipsman.

CT: Could he really have a monster hand?

HF: No. This river card makes it even less likely that I’m beat. He would have to have made quad threes or flopped a set of deuces to beat me, unless he decided to check-raise the flop with eights, which is very unlikely. I already have about 65 percent of my stack in the pot. I’m never folding this river.

Nipsman calls 19,543. JohnnyBax reveals the 6Spade Suit 4Spade Suit. Nipsman wins the pot of 105,786.

CT: What do you make of the shove on the river?

HF: I think the shove on the river is a big mistake. I don’t know how he could possibly expect me to fold when I have invested 65 percent of my stack in this hand already. At this point, he has to believe that I could definitely have a huge hand, with my line. I do respect Bax’s game. In this instance, I was very fortunate to capitalize on a blunder from him late in a big tournament. Spade Suit

Hayden Fortini, 19, won two $900 buy-in no-limit hold’em events within seven days, for a total of $109,000, at the Isle of Carpi Casino in Pompano Beach, Florida, this past spring. Since then, he has been terrorizing online tournaments, with wins on numerous sites, including the prestigious PokerStars Super Tuesday $1,000 buy-in tourney, and daily $100 rebuy events.