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Hand 2 Hand Combat - Johnny Chan Meets Match in Josh Brikis

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Nov 01, 2010


Event: World Series of Poker Main event
Day: 3
Blinds: 800-1,600
Stacks: Josh Brikis – 170k-180k; Johnny Chan – 600,000

Rebecca McAdam: The hand you’re going to talk about is against Johnny Chan. He actually made remarks about you, didn’t he?

Josh Brikis: Yeah, he said, “I beat everyone else at the table. He’s the only guy that took chips off of me today. The table was good…but I’m glad we’re changing tables.”

RM: At the time the hand played out did you think you had him more worried than he was about the others at the table?

JB: Yeah, I’d say so. I was on his left and had chips, he knew that I wasn’t going to let him run the table even with that stack.

RM: Up to the point of the hand, what were your thoughts on his play?

JB: He was actually pretty active, opening a lot. He obviously played well but my thoughts were just that I had position on him so I was fine with playing pots against him.

Chan opens to 4,000, Josh Brikis calls from the cut-off with 7-7.

Flop: K-7-6 rainbow.

JB: Now I know I have hit a huge hand here obviously and I just want to make sure I get the most chips possible.

RM: Would you ever consider raising here preflop?

JB: I didn’t three-bet because I don’t want to get pushed off my hand preflop. We were so deep if he four-bets I have to muck. So yeah, I like three-betting different hands there but not 7-7.

RM: Why?

JB: Well the very top of my range I might three-bet and maybe hands like suited connectors or something, that way my three-bet range is wide enough that sometimes I can flat call a four-bet or jam and sometimes I can muck easily to a four-bet. So a hand like 7-7 has more value I think in seeing a flop since we were 100 bb effectively. It was a good flop because I think he easily can have K-Q, A-K, A-A here and I figured based on his c-bet if he made one I would decide how to play the hand from there. He led for 7,700 into like 11,000. There was no flush draw but there were possible straight draws, and I felt like flat calling here and going hard on a blank turn looks too obvious. I also thought that some turn cards might slow him down if I flat-call the flop. If a straight card gets there on the turn like the 10 or the 5, he may check-fold even with A-K or A-A.

RM: So how can you get maximum value and also avoid getting into trouble?

JB: Well that’s what I was trying to figure out against a world champ that I am hoping has a real hand here. I thought a few things here; first I thought if I raise he’s going to think that I am raising a straight draw or K-Q or total air. So sometimes I just do something to make my opponent think what I should or would be doing. I think a lot of players may flat with a set there and raise the turn, but going with my read… and for some reason I was pretty confident that he had a real hand here, like A-K or A-A. I obviously am drawing to one out if its K-K but I was going to find out if he had K-K right now, at least that’s what I was thinking.

Brikis bets 17,500. Chan insta-raises to 33,200. Brikis calls.

RM: Did you want him to think that you were giving him a present?

JB: I wanted him to think that I was trying to outplay him and I knew if he had a real hand that it would work so my read had to be right, but at the same time if he has something like A-Q and I flat the flop, he’s done with the hand most of the time anyway. So he plays back at me and makes it 33,200. Now I am really happy that I decided to raise the flop because I feel like I have his range polarised almost to two hands. Not that he couldn’t have K-K here but if he does, well I am pretty sure I am going broke. I would have to be 100 percent sure he had that to get away. Now he could have straight draws but I don’t think he takes that line so I am pretty sure he doesn’t, however, I am going to re-evaluate based on the turn card and his play at that point. So I am pretty sure I know where he is at now, I actually think he has A-K and he is overplaying it, but we’ll see.

Turn: 9.

JB: I like this card a lot because if he did have a straight draw, he now has a pair (well if he had the top end). So we may be able to get it in here. But if he leads into me I figure him for A-K or A-A still. If he checks I figure him for either K-K or a straight draw.

Chan bets 50,000. Brikis calls.

RM: So you’re pretty comfortable now.

JB: I was super comfortable when he led the turn into me for 50,000. If he has played K-K that good and got lucky enough to get set over set then more power to him because I am not folding.

RM: What did you think he was trying to do with that bet?

JB: Honestly, I don’t really know. I assume he thinks he has the best hand, maybe he wants me to fold the turn. Maybe he thinks I have K-Q and I’m not folding and I am worried that it might look real strong, but I wasn’t exactly sure he would/could call a shove.

RM: You obviously now want him to bet into you on the river to get as much as possible.
JB: Yeah, I think an ace would be the only real scare card for me at this point, the way the hand has played. I’m still not sure I can fold because if an ace hit he could still go nuts with A-K.

River: 3

Chan puts Brikis all in. Brikis snap-calls.

JB: Because I was in position and didn’t have the nuts I waited and he said A-K, so I showed. He mucked though. I doubled through him to 360k on day three and was in the top 10.

RM: Do you think too many people have learned that “the best thing” to do is check your set on the flop and let them lead into you/ bet the turn?

JB: I think a lot of people play big hands like that differently, I mean I’d like to think most aggressive players are raising there and/or, if out of position, leading with sets. When you have an image of being a maniac and raising every hand and continuity betting every hand you have to do the same with your big hands and you will get paid.

RM: After this hand you probably found you could push him around a bit?

JB: I mean yeah because we played some other hands as well and I won most of them. Like he said he was getting chips elsewhere but not from me so we both managed to bag a big stack and I didn’t see him until day six I think. Very nice guy though and I have all the respect in the world for him. It really felt good to have a hall of famer and world champ say that he was happy to be done playing with me for the day.

Josh Brikis went on to finish in 55th place in the main event for $138,285. The young American pro has lifetime winnings of more than $1.2 million. To read more from/about Brikis, you can visit or check out his blogs on ♠