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Hand 2 Hand Combat: Loeser Makes Winning Move German Pro Takes No Prisoners At WSOP

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Sep 01, 2012


Rebecca McAdam: So it’s early in the tournament when the hand in question breaks out. Can you set the scene?

Manig Loeser: Hugo Lemaire is under the gun (UTG) with 80,000 in front of him, an unknown Russian kid is on the button with 16,000, and I (the big blind) have 35,000. So the Russian guy [villain] didn’t say a single word for the first few hours, then Liv Boeree replaced an old amateur who busted, and the Russian instantly turned into an entertainer and started straddling (aka blind-raising UTG as there’s obviously no option to straddle in tournaments). Then the guy to my right says, “He’s trying to impress someone.” I agree and the Russian gets very aggressive and starts threatening us. So that hit a nerve. It’s important for the hand later on.

I flatted his raises a lot and defended my big blind 100 percent when he opened the button, and he started to get pretty annoyed. I did this because I felt like I could outplay him easily post-flop.

RM: Before you go on, in the higher buy-in ‘side events’ at the WSOP, do you find the standard is better and hence maybe easier to predict play?

ML: Yeah the standard is definitely better and it is easier to assign ranges because most of your opponents know what they’re doing and their lines make sense, but since the good players can quickly adjust to the current situation it’s still not too easy to play against them. In the smaller side events it’s sometimes really hard to put your opponents on a hand because sometimes they don’t even know if they are value-betting or bluffing.

RM: Do you think the villain in this hand started getting active because he recognized Boeree was a pro and an attractive one at that so wanted to show off? Or did you think he maybe didn’t know who she was and was just doing it because she’s a woman regardless of who she was?

ML: Yes, when a beautiful woman like Liv sits down at the table, a lot of people instantly want to show off and make high risk moves. I feel like this is one of the reasons why she’s so successful, some men would rather show a huge bluff in her presence than make a +ev (positive expected value) play. He definitely knew who she was and looked a bit surprised when she started talking to me after she sat down.
RM: So he doesn’t realize it but he’s making himself more prone to making a mistake at this point, and letting his emotions take over.

ML: Yep, definitely not the greatest idea to start blind raising UTG.

RM: What was Liv’s reaction to this? Did she get involved with him at all?

ML: Liv tried to be polite but you could see how she got annoyed at him after he asked a lot of stupid questions, then he got a bit pissed when she started ignoring him.

RM: Is he verbally pissed off at this point?

ML: Well he asked, “You don’t understand my bad English or why don’t you answer?” in a bit of an angry tone and she didn’t reply, so I’d say yes he was.

RM: So what happens next?

ML: He let it go for a while and then the hand happens. Lemaire, who was really active and had a lot of chips, opens UTG for 500, the villain three-bets on the button to 1,250, the small blind folds and I have KHeart Suit QHeart Suit in the big blind. Usually this is a good spot to cold four-bet but when I started thinking I saw that Hugo played with his iPad and looked really disinterested in the hand, this combined with the fact that I thought that I had a big post-flop edge against my Russian opponent even out of position and a hand that plays well post-flop made me call instead. Hugo quickly folds.

Flop: JDiamond Suit 6Club Suit 4Spade Suit

Loeser checks, Villain checks.

ML: I check and the villain checks behind. After he checked it was pretty obvious that he never has complete air because I feel like he would c-bet [continuation bet] that flop most of the time and it is not unlikely that he even has a really strong hand like Q-Q, K-K, or A-A because I was so aggressive post-flop and he expects me to take at least one stab at the pot on later streets (which is a good assumption). Maybe he just wants to control the size of the pot with a medium strength hand.

Turn: 4Heart Suit

Loeser bets 1,925. Villain calls.

ML: Even though I think he will almost never fold on the turn this bet is good for multiple reasons; first of all I want to build a pot in case I hit the flush because I will pretty much always get paid off when I make a medium-sized value-bet on the river. It is also necessary to bet the turn to build the basis for a successful bluff on the river if I miss my flush draw because he won’t fold if I fire just one bullet.

River: 2Club Suit

RM: So you think he has a good hand and is perhaps waiting to get busy on the river? Or what kind of hands are you thinking he has here?

ML: Yes, when I factor in his timing on the turn (he called quickly and definitely expected me to bet), I am decently sure that he has Q-Q, K-K, or A-A. It is also possible that he has a slightly weaker hand like 9-9 / T-T or maybe J-X sometimes but I feel like he would often flat those hands against an UTG raiser instead of three-betting and he would also think a bit before making the turn-call.

For the same reason (three-betting preflop) it’s pretty unlikely that he has a super strong hand like 6-6 / 4-4 and with J-J again he would at least think for a bit and not snap-call. I doubt he has A-K / A-Q or complete air a lot. He rarely has a dominating flush draw with AHeart Suit XHeart Suit because I think he would c-bet the flop with a backdoor flush draw, also I’m blocking AHeart Suit QHeart Suit and AHeart Suit KHeart Suit and I don’t think he three-bets a lot of weaker AHeart Suit XHeart Suit. A-J is a bit more likely but I still think that his most likely holding is an over pair.

RM: What are your options on the river then?

ML: A) Chicken out; check and give up. Obviously not happening as Liv Boeree is watching and I want to show off. In all seriousness though, my turn-bet would be useless and a complete waste of money if I’m not bluffing at that river card.

B) Check and jam over his bet. It is a decent option because he will never check behind if my assumption for his range is correct and he will have a tough time to call off all his chips. Then again I feel like he will often talk himself into a hero call because I will rarely use that line with any sort of value hand. Also if my reads are off and he ends up having a weak ace-high or a small pocket pair he will gladly check behind and take down the pot.

C) Make a normal-sized value-bet. He will probably call extremely wide and he might decide to shove with Q-Q, K-K, or A-A if he expects me to call him with worse. Not the best scenario.

D) Over-jam the river. This play has to work around 64 percent of the time (risking 12,450 to win 7,100) to be profitable and I don’t think it will work nearly as often because he will end up calling with a big part of his range.

E) Fake block-bet to induce a raise, then jam. This is a great option for many reasons. If he really has an over pair he will feel like he’s losing a lot of value if he’s just calling, but since the bet is so small he doesn’t want to shove his whole stack in. He will think that he will look extremely stupid if he just calls with say A-A and I turn over K-K because he could’ve won way more money if he would have put in a raise, especially with the dynamic at the table. He doesn’t want anyone to see that he makes a weak call instead of going for a value-raise. I don’t think he expects me to ever jam over his river-raise without J-J, 6-6, 4-4, or 2-2.

The only downside is that he will gladly call a small bet with all his bluff-catchers but considering all the information that I have, I think the chances for that are very slim.

Loeser bets 2,225. Villain raises to 4,450. Loeser thinks for a bit and reraises enough to put villain all in.

ML: He immediately sighs out loud and says, “I have K-K”, tanks forever, and then finally folds. I elect to show my bluff and he goes mental. A couple hands later he opens, I three-bet A-Q off-suit and he jams around 40 big blinds with 9-8 off-suit. I call and can bust him.

RM: Did anyone say anything to you at the table after?

ML: No, not really. Liv was actually away from the table when the A-Q hand happened and when she got back she just asked, “Where’d he go?” then looked and me and asked, “You busted him?” with a big smile. ♠

Twenty-three-year old German pro Manig Loeser is based in London and can be found in all of poker’s hot spots around the world taking on the game’s elite and searching for a major title and score. Playing poker since he was 18, Loeser hit poker headlines when he took down the European Masters Of Poker Bulgaria for €49,080 in 2010. So far he has come close to another victory with two second-place finishes; one to Praz Bansi in the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour London main event in 2011 (£67,070) and another to Toby Lewis in a side event at the European Poker Tour London in 2010 (£37,700), that’s aside from many deep runs and cashes. The German is not one to be taken lightly at the felt as he ventures forward in his dreams of gold.