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Final Table Takedown -- Kevin MacPhee

Kevnin MacPhee analyzes each hand from his opponent's perspective

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: May 01, 2010


Kevin “ImaLuckSac” MacPhee is a 28-year-old professional poker player from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He has earned more than $3 million in online tournaments, and is currently ranked in the top 20 in the online world. He has been a regular on the European Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker, and has successfully made the transition into the live-tournament arena with more than $1.5 million in winnings. His largest online-tournament cash came in February 2009, when he made the final table of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series $5,000 no-limit hold’em event for $218,750.

Event 2010 PokerStars European Poker Tour Berlin main event
Players in the Event 945
Buy-in $6,986
First Prize $1,362,264
Finish First

Hand No. 1
Stacks: Kevin MacPhee – 6,305,000; Ketul Nathwani – 4,375,000; Marko Neumann – 1,780,000
Blinds: 30,000-60,000
Antes: 5,000
Players at the Table: 7

Hand No. 1
Key Concepts: Hand reading; re-evaluating hand ranges of opponents as the hand progresses; extracting maximum value

Kevin MacPhee raises to 140,000 from early position with the AClub Suit AHeart Suit. Ketul Nathwani calls from the button. Marko Neumann calls from the big blind.

Flop: ADiamond Suit 9Club Suit 4Spade Suit (pot: 485,000)
Neumann checks. MacPhee bets 235,000. Nathwani calls. Neumann folds.

Craig Tapscott: How can you get the most out of such a huge hand after a perfect flop?

Kevin MacPheeKevin MacPhee: To extract maximum value, some people would advocate checking, claiming that it is very difficult to get action on such a dry board. However, I’m continuation-betting this flop a large percentage of the time with nothing, so I want to bet when I have a made hand, as well. Betting also enables me to build a large pot. This ensures that all of the chips get into the pot if one of my opponents is strong.

Turn: 10Diamond Suit (pot: 955,000)
MacPhee leads out for 485,000. Nathwani raises to 1,555,000. MacPhee reraises to 3,000,000. Nathwani snap-folds. MacPhee wins the pot of 2,995,000.

CT: Nothing can really scare you at this point. Could you have milked more from Nathwani by checking?

KM: There is a lot of argument for simply calling Nathwani’s raise and checking the river to him. This would allow him to keep bluffing if that is the case. However, I thought it was extremely difficult for him to have a complete bluff here. Floating an ace-high, dry flop seems extremely unlikely in a three-way pot.

CT: Your bet is also sending a message that you’re pretty strong.

KM: Well, by putting the third bet in on the turn, I’m stating that I think he’s strong and not bluffing. I’m hoping that he will stack off with hands like A-10, A-9, A-4, 10-9, 10-10, 9-9, 4-4. In my opinion, because Nathwani called the flop and raised the turn, he will never have A-K, A-Q, A-J, or a draw in this situation, as he would simply call again with these holdings. His turn play is polarized to air or two pair or better. I don’t want a card that completes a flush or straight draw to come off on the river, and have him shut down with hands that would have paid me off on the turn. I go for the quick kill and put in the third bet, praying that he was on the wrong side of a cold deck.

CT: Since you indicated that Nathwani snap-folded after you reraised, how could he have saved those precious chips? Obviously, it was a bad read by him, since your actions from start to finish were very strong.

KM: Since he folded so fast, this leads me to believe that he indeed floated me with the intention of taking the pot away on the turn. However, he should have re-evaluated the situation when I bet the turn. Once I’ve raised preflop, continuation-bet into a three-way pot, and still fired on the turn against a big stack, it’s very difficult for me to be weak.

CT: Do you regret not slow-playing the turn?

KM: In a perfect world, I simply would have called the turn and check-shoved the river. This would have allowed him to keep bluffing, and I still would have gotten value from a lot of the hands I was hoping to get paid by on the turn.

Hand No. 2
Stacks: Kevin MacPhee – 12,155,000 Ketul Nathwani – 1,845,000
Blinds: 40,000-80,000
Antes: 5,000
Players at the Table: 5

Hand No. 2
Key Concepts: Interpreting tells; hand reading; sending a message to the table

Kevin MacPhee raises to 190,000 from under the gun with the ADiamond Suit 9Club Suit. Ketul Nathwani reraises all in for 1,840,000 from the button. MacPhee calls.

CT: This can’t exactly be a “standard” call, can it?

KM: Not really; but online, it would be close.

CT: Please explain.

KM: I opened with a hand that’s near the top of my opening range. Nathwani was sitting on only 23 big blinds, a perfect shoving stack. I knew that he was going to be playing this stack size very aggressively with an all-in preflop shove.

CT: Were you so sure that you were right that you snap-called?

KM: No. I took my time in making my decision, hoping that his body language would enable me to extract a little more information. While I was thinking, Nathwani said something along the lines of, “Just can’t let it go, huh?” Then, he stood up from his chair. I immediately read that as a reverse tell. Would this aggressive, Internet-educated player really do this with a big hand? So, I took his actions as a sign of weakness and made the borderline call, and was very happy when he revealed the AClub Suit 6Heart Suit.

Flop: 9Heart Suit 4Heart Suit 3Club Suit
Turn: 5Spade Suit
River: QSpade Suit
MacPhee wins the pot of 3,825,000.

CT: Were there any other reasons that you made a call like this?

KM: This call sends a message to the rest of the table: Don’t mess with me! When you make a borderline call like this and you are right, it makes it extremely difficult for the rest of the table to play against you. After this hand, I met very little resistance with my opening raises, and was able to maximize my aggression for the rest of the final table.

Hand No. 3
Stacks: Kevin MacPhee – 18,805,000 Ilari Tahkokallio – 9,695,000
Blinds: 150,000-300,000
Antes: None for heads-up play
Players at the Table: 2

Hand No. 3
Key Concepts: Hand reading; previous history; metagame

Kevin MacPhee raises to 700,000 from the button with the 4Spade Suit 3Spade Suit. Ilari Tahkokallio defends from the big blind.

Flop: 5Club Suit 4Heart Suit 2Club Suit (pot: 1,400,000)
Tahkokallio leads out for 850,000.

CT: Had Tahkokallio been leading out like this previously at the final table?

KM: He had been defending from the big blind and leading out on a lot of flops once we had started heads-up play. I had commented to him earlier that he liked to lead out on boards with a certain flop texture. So, he knew that I knew that he was stealing a lot on these flop textures, and I think that influenced his line. He had to assume that I had to adapt my heads-up play to deal with him leading into my preflop raises.

MacPhee raises to 2,050,000. Tahkokallio shoves all in for 8,995,000 total with the 9Heart Suit 6Heart Suit. MacPhee calls.

KM: Yet again, I flopped extremely well — middle pair and an open-end straight draw. I made another extremely strong hand and was able to catch another very difficult opponent with his hand in the cookie jar.

Turn: JHeart Suit (pot: 19,390,000)
River: 6Spade Suit (pot: 19,390,000)
Kevin MacPhee wins the pot of 19,390,000 and the EPT Berlin championship. Spade Suit