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Hand 2 Hand Combat - Ryan Hall Shares a Missed Opportunity, and a Big Laydown

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Oct 15, 2010


Event: PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up no-limit hold’em tournament
Players in the Event: 4,029
Buy-in: $200
First Place: $126,512
Finish: Second

Hand No. 1
Stacks: “ryanghall” – 122,394; Villain – 182,751
Players at the Table: 9
Blinds: 1,000-2,000
Antes: 200

Ryan “ryanghall” Hall opens for 4,550 from early position with the K♠ J♠. The villain calls from middle position.

Craig Tapscott: This hand takes place at what stage of the event?

Ryan Hall: It’s in the middle stages of the tournament, right before the money.

CT: Do you have any reads on the villain?

RH: He is the other big stack at the table. He’s not a name that I know, and I haven’t been at the table long. Therefore, I certainly could put him on any pair, and in a tournament like the Sunday Warm-Up, he could have any two cards 10 or higher, and suited connectors.

Flop: K♣ 4♣ 2♠ (pot: 13,900)

Ryanghall checks.

CT: Why the check and not a follow-up to your open-raise with a continuation-bet?

RH: There are a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m not likely to get three streets of value out of my hand. My aim is to get two streets of value, and I believe that (a) checking the flop and betting the turn and river or (b) betting the flop, checking the turn, and betting the river is the best way to achieve this. The other benefit of checking is that I can’t be forced to make a tough decision if he decides to raise and apply pressure.

CT: Do the stack sizes come into play in your decision at all?

RH: The stacks are fairly big, and this isn’t a hand with which I’d feel all that comfortable committing all of my chips. If I check the flop and he bets, it’s an easy call. Also, I have a backdoor spade draw, which I may pick up on the turn, and now I’m guaranteed to see if that happens. The board isn’t all that scary. There’s a club draw, but that’s about it; the non-king cards are low. I’m certainly willing to take the chance of giving a free card, and it’s always something that should at least be considered when you have a decent but marginal hand and the board isn’t scary.

The villain checks.

Turn: 10♠ (pot: 13,900)

Ryanghall bets 7,700.

RH: The turn is a really nice card, as I’ve picked up my draw. Now I can bet, and if raised, I can very comfortably call. If he has any pair or any piece of the board, he’s very likely to call at this point, because I didn’t bet the flop.
The villain calls.

River: 6♥ (pot: 29,300)

Ryanghall checks. The villain bets 18,000. Ryanghall calls. The villain reveals the Q♦ 10♦. Ryanghall wins the pot of 65,300.

CT: Why the check-call? Did you miss out on value on the river?

RH: On the river, I made a mistake. I should have bet, and here’s why: First of all, there’s a good chance that he has a 10. With his check behind on the flop, it’s unlikely (although still possible) that he has a king, but with the call on the turn, A-10, Q-10, J-10, and even 10-9 could be present, as they are reasonable enough hands with which to call preflop, particularly suited. Another argument for betting is that since I played the hand in a somewhat tricky fashion, he could call the river out of confusion with a mediocre hand, such as pairs that have not hit the board, like Q-Q, J-J, 5-5 to 9-9, and even 3-3.

CT: Could he have had a flush draw on the flop?

RH: I remember that he didn’t call incredibly quickly on the flop. This is perhaps a sign that he didn’t have a draw. An additional reason for betting is that there’s no guarantee that he will bluff at the river if he missed his draw (especially since he’s an unknown), and if he had a club draw, he very well might have bet the flop. A busted spade draw is somewhat less likely, since four of them are out of the deck. I must not have thought through the hand very clearly. I probably check-called because of the two possible flush draws out there, but since my hand was underrepresented, and taking into account the reasons above, I certainly should have bet.

Hand No. 2
Stacks: “ryanghall” – 1,337,513; Villain – 1,718,257
Blinds: 15,000-30,000
Antes: 3,000
Players at the Table: 9

Ryan “Ryanghall” Hall raises to 69,000 from under the gun with the A♥ A♠. The villain calls from the cutoff.

RH: Some people try to get tricky with aces and limp in, but this is asking for trouble in almost every case, in my opinion. Again, I haven’t been at this table long, and the caller’s name looks vaguely familiar, so I’ve probably played at least a couple of tournaments with him before. The stacks are deep enough that his call could mean all sorts of speculative hands. A fair range is probably any pair, A-Q, K-Q, suited connectors, suited aces, and suited cards J-10 and higher. Most high pairs and A-K will probably reraise preflop, but not always. It’s important to put people on a range of hands and never completely discount anything unless you have a specific read.

Flop: Q♦ 6♥ 5♦ (pot: 210,000)

RH: On this flop, it’s not a good time to get tricky. There’s a queen on the board that he might have hit with A-Q or, more likely, K-Q, and there are possible draws. I want to get money in the pot, and I’m willing to go broke with my hand if he raises.

Ryanghall bets 134,000. The villain calls.

CT: Does his call give you a better read on the villain’s range?

RH: Since I raised from under the gun, he’s less likely to be floating here. He probably has a queen, a diamond draw, 8-7 of some suit, or a pocket pair, likely 7-7 to J-J. Most players would raise with a set here, so that’s fairly unlikely.

Turn: Q♣ (pot: 478,000)

Ryanghall checks. The villain bets 224,500.

CT: That’s not a great card.

RH: No. It’s horrible. I’m now ahead of the drawing part of his range and the pairs. The pairs are unlikely to put any more money into the pot, so I checked to see what he would do. He fired a fairly substantial bet, and a case could possibly be made for folding right here. I don’t think that’s the best play, though, as I still have a good hand and don’t want to give up that easily; I want to see if he’s going to continue to apply pressure on the river. Therefore, I …

Ryanghall calls.

River: 10♦ (pot: 927,000)

Ryanghall checks. The villain bets 350,400.

RH: The river completes the flush draw. Based on my previous reads, I’m now beating 8-7 suited (except diamonds), 7-7 to 9-9, and J-J. It’s not out of the question that he could have K-K, as well, since it’s very unlikely that 7-7 to 9-9 would bet the turn and river. We also must consider that I don’t have the A♦. This makes it more likely that he could have a flush. His bet is not a big one. Despite the odds, I think that I have to throw this hand away. The most likely hands for him to have all got there.

Ryanghall folds. The villain wins the pot of 927,000.

RH: The villain later insinuated that he had the 8♦ 7♦, and if that’s the case, I’m very thankful that he didn’t put more money in on the flop, as he probably should have. ♠

Ryan Hall is a high-school geography teacher by day and a tournament professional by night. The native Canadian has more than $1.2 million in career cashes, including a second-place finish in the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up for $94,278 this past May.