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Hand 2 Hand Combat -- Lex Veldhuis

"RaSZi" applies pressure in Barcelona

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: May 01, 2010


Event European Poker Tour Barcelona 2009
Blinds 800-1,600
Prize Pool €3,382,000
Entrants 428
Chip Counts Veldhuis: 250,000; Villain: 125,000

Lex VeldhuisRebecca McAdam: Set the scene…

Lex Veldhuis: I have been playing pretty aggro [aggressive], but definitely tighter than the villain is used to from me. I pressure a lot of weaker players to my left when they’re in the blinds, something any player would do, so he doesn’t perceive me as batshitcrazy at this point.

RM: Have you played with the villain before?

LV: The villain is a tight-aggressive tournament regular who is not afraid of big moves here and there. He is very competent and out of respect I won’t mention his name. Also cause it’s not nice to write these hands without them being present. I played with him during a WSOP shorthanded event and I called him with king-high no diamonds on a four-diamond board. So he knows I’m a thinking player.

He opens to 4,000 on the button and this is the first time he gets to do so. My read on him is he plays aggro in position and abuses late position raise spots. So I want him to back off and I three-bet to 12,500 with QSpade Suit 8Spade Suit.

Villain calls.
Flop: KSpade Suit 8Club Suit 5Diamond Suit

LV: At this point I don’t want to give him a chance to inflate the pot so I check to try and go to showdown. I have a lot of showdown value at this point so I don’t feel like going bananas. I think he could 1) trap me, 2) have a reasonably good hand that flops well and we are deep enough to play i.e. suited connectors, or 3) does not want to be fucked with.

RM: But if you think he acts a lot in position, could the opener bet preflop be just to push most opponents off?

LV: Yes I think he has a pretty weak holding there on average. However, it becomes slightly less weak (his range becomes more narrow) when he calls. So I chose to check the flop.

Villain bets 14,500.

LV: There is no way I’m folding here, also because I give a chance for him to bluff. He would expect me to continuation-bet a lot since he views me as aggressive. So when I don’t he might try to take a stab at it.

RM: Do you think he has connected at all?

LV: At this point I don’t think he has a low pocket pair for instance because he has a lot of showdown value and would gladly go to showdown versus my missed broadway type hands. He could very well have Kx, a set, or an airball [nothing].

RM: How many levels of thought do you usually go to? Like would you start thinking that maybe he wants you to think he’s taking a stab at it?

LV: Not really, at a certain point you just process the info on level one versus good players. He is good enough to use reverse psychology to some levels and I don’t want to get stuck in a chicken and egg situation. So I just make up a range I put him on in that spot and act accordingly, while exercising pot control. Therefore I flat call on the flop.

Turn: 2Heart Suit
Veldhuis checks. Villain checks.

LV: I check because leading would go against everything I felt so far. He checks behind. This tells me he does not have a set or is trapping me because stack sizes are perfect to bet the turn and shove the river, and if he checks he might waste a lot of value. So now I put him on K-x or airballs and remove nutted hands from his range. If he has a weak king he might think I’d check-raise the turn all in, or that he cannot get value from hands he crushes. I’m pretty happy going to showdown.

River: 9Spade Suit
Veldhuis checks. Villain bets 18,000.

LV: Now I think he is either fake-value betting some top/second pair kind of hand, while having complete air, or he is value-betting a weak king that he pot-controlled on the turn.

RM: If you are worried about the king, is it not hard to follow with just your 8?

LV: This is a very important thing to realise. You can turn showdown hands in to a bluff. If I believe he is bluffing, he will fold. If he is not bluffing I narrowed down his range to one-pair holdings. K-9 he would fold preflop and 9-8 he would check on the flop for the same reasons I checked. So he has one pair or nothing. We have 85,000 behind and I shove all in, because I don’t think he will call with K-J.

RM: Wow, ballsy.

LV: Thanks (laughs) but it makes a lot of sense and it’s a lot less crazy than it seems ‘cause he really never snap-calls you with a set. I want to put him to the test for his tournament life because we know what he has if he has to think.

RM: It’s just scary because you are relying on your own process of elimination and putting all your chips in with what you think is right.

LV: Yeah this move would have been suicide for instance if we were deeper and he also bet the turn. But by checking the turn he told us he doesn’t have a nut hand.

Villain tanks and folds. Veldhuis wins the pot and later finds out the Villain folded a king.

LV: So the move worked and the power of pressure did the trick. I do think if he folds to a check-raise he should not bet because he knows I’m capable of doing it. So if he bets and gives me an opening to bomb it all in, he should follow through. You just don’t see people check-raising rivers in tournaments too often.

RM: If he had bet the turn what would you have done?

LV: I think I would have to call because he will bet a lot of airballs and he doesn’t expect me to check a pair. People always do weird stuff when I check, because they expect me to blow up. So I usually have to keep them honest for at least two streets (laughs).

RM: He told you later it was a king, yeah?

LV: Much later, at another EPT or something.

RM: And you told him you had him beat?

LV: Obviously. A-A! Spade Suit

Lex “RaSZi” Veldhuis is originally from the Netherlands but spends most of his time in Vegas and at various tournaments around the world. He has become well-known for both his live and online antics, not to mention his crazy aggressive yet versatile style, and is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.