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Final Table Takedown With Michael Lech

Recent WSOP Bracelet Winner And Eight-Time WSOP Circuit Champ Breaks Down Hands From Circuit Win

by Steve Schult |  Published: Nov 04, 2020


Michael LechOver the last few years, Michael Lech has amassed one of the most impressive résumés at the mid-major level. The traveling tournament pro from Arkansas has earned nearly $1.5 million in tournament earnings and has won eight World Series of Poker Circuit rings in five different countries.

This summer, Lech earned his first major title with a WSOP bracelet win in the $1,500 no-limit hold’em high roller freezeout during the American-facing WSOP Online. He bested a field of 649 entries to earn $164,249, along with the gold.

Lech had a monster series throughout July as he cashed 12 times for a total $193,101. He followed the American-facing series up with a trip down to Mexico to play the international-facing WSOP on GGPoker. He made a deep run in the $5,000 no-limit hold’em main event, finishing 31st for an additional $55,880.

The online bracelet came four years after Lech’s biggest score, a runner-up finish in the $888 no-limit hold’em crazy eights event at the 2016 WSOP, worth $401,888. Less than a year later, Lech went down to New Orleans and earned the second of his Circuit titles in the $2,200 no-limit hold’em high roller.

Lech sat down with Card Player to reevaluate a few hands he played at the final table in New Orleans.

Players Remaining: 4

Concepts: Finding the correct push-fold spots late in final tables.

The Action: Ray Qartomy raised to 60,000 from under the gun and Michael Lech moved all in on the button for 400,000. Qartomy called.

Steve Schult: Is this a standard shove at this stack depth against an under-the-gun range or was this a player-dependent shove?

Michael Lech: I would say that at this point in the tournament, I was feeling a little uncomfortable with just calling, even in position, with a good hand like K-J. I had 17 big blinds and he was raising and opened up his game, I remember. He was kind of just trying to run over the table after he picked up a couple chips.

I decided to just rip it in because I thought he might be able to outplay me if I miss any flop, suddenly dwindling down to an even shorter stack. It turned out to be a pivotal hand to just get a double up there getting called down by eight-high.

I don’t remember exactly how many chips he had, but I don’t think it was a significant portion of his stack to call off. I guess he just likes to play with live cards. I’ve played with plenty of players who when they get shoved on and they have plenty of chips, they just say “run the board.”

But as far as shoving versus calling, I think if it was a more passive player, I would be more apt to call because it’s a nice hand to play in position.

SS: What about Qartomy’s open. Is it too wide or is it standard for someone with a bigger stack?

ML: I think it’s a fine open. Any sort of suited one-gapper four-handed is a pretty standard open. I would do it all the way down to like 20 big blinds. If I had his stack, I would probably be opening 8-6 suited because it’s a fun hand to play.

I find myself on the looser side. That was still at the beginning of one of my more successful runs I’ve had over the past couple years. I was definitely a little nervous playing that final table. I don’t think there was any point, up until I got four-handed or three-handed, that I thought I had a shot to win.

I was in last place all the way up until four-handed and then that K-J hand [gave me more play]. Then I doubled through Marshall and I was second in chips. Then I busted Ray, and all of a sudden, I was chip leader.

SS: When talking about Ray’s call, you mentioned how much the shove was in relation to the rest of his remaining stack. Is that something you think about much when you’re debating a call or is it simply the equity of your hand versus the equity of your opponent’s range?

ML: I think it’s more player-dependent, which changes the ranges up for sure. I think more math-based players, who are trying to play more GTO, would be different.

SS: Do you consider yourself a feel player then? How would you describe yourself?

ML: I’m a results-oriented player and proud of it (laughs). If it works, it works. If somehow, I find a way to win the pot, then that’s the way to play it. I’ve been living with a bunch of different players who have a bunch of different theories. For example, I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of the past summers living with a big group of Lithuanian players that are online solver guys that work really hard. They definitely have a different approach to the game than I do, but you can learn a little bit from everybody along the way.

Players Remaining: 2

Concepts: Making hero calls when being laid a good price by your opponent.

The Action: Marshall White raised to 130,000 on the button and Michael Lech called from the big blind. On the flop, Lech checked and White bet 80,000. Lech called. On the turn, Lech checked and White bet 130,000. Lech called. On the river, Lech checked and White bet 215,000. Lech called.

SS: Clearly your hand is too good to fold preflop, but do you ever three-bet this against certain player types?

ML: I think I would, but that was pretty early in the heads-up match. I don’t really like to start the match by going crazy with three-betting, especially against a pretty good opponent. I had respect for him already and knew he was competent, so I definitely didn’t want to be building a pot out of position with K-9 off against him. I think maybe just calling is underrepresenting it, but it’s the bottom of the under-repping range.

SS: On the flop, what are your thoughts when you check-call? Are you floating? Are you just peeling with your multiple backdoor draws, or do you think you have the best hand?

ML: I thought his sizing is pretty standard for a small c-bet (continuation bet) with any two. With the KHeart Suit in my hand, I have both backdoors with the straight and hearts. I thought it was best just to play further into the hand and reevaluate. I still didn’t want to build the pot at all.

Obviously, check-raising is an idea that I might entertain today, but there I was just ready to see more cards and keep the pot small.

SS: On the turn, you check-call 130,000. Walk me through your thought process.

ML: All of his ace-x hands are going to be c-betting again, but I thought there would be a greater percentage of airball hands that would be willing to throw in a second barrel there. I figured he might not put in the third barrel and I had king-high.

At this point, I was also just being a little stubborn. I can’t say I was looking towards blockers of any sort or was really thinking about what he was doing. I just thought that I had king-high and it could easily be the best hand and he might just stop betting if he doesn’t hit a pair.

SS: If the turn paired the board and he bet, would you still have called?

ML: I probably would’ve folded at that point, but I thought the ace was too good of a card for him to [resist] bluffing.

SS: On the river, you check and he bets for a third time. I don’t really know how else to ask this. How did you decide to call?

ML: He sized up a little bit, so it seemed like value. But when he bet this size, I put him specifically on two pair, an ace, or air. When you think about it like that, air is just about 50 percent of it or more maybe.

I thought about it for a little while, but I just decided that I wanted to see what he had. And it turns out I had the best hand. It wasn’t a super genius hand. I was just being a little sticky.

SS: I assume you would’ve folded to a bigger sizing then if you were just being sticky?

ML: The sizing throughout the entire hand really played into my call. It just seemed like there could be some random airballs. I think if he sizes up, I find a fold. I think he was thinking that I was a competent player and that it would look like he was making a value bet. He just didn’t realize I wasn’t in a folding mood.

Players Remaining: 2

Concepts: Finding good spots to use unconventional bet sizes.

The Action: Michael Lech raised to 175,000 on the button and Marshall White called. On the flop, White checked and Lech bet 270,000. White called. White checked the turn and Lech bet 150,000. White called. On the river, White checked and Lech bet 865,000. White called.

SS: If you’re raising J-6, are you raising all of your buttons in the heads-up match?

ML: Once I picked up a little steam, I decided to raise about 100 percent of them. I had done a limp before and I just thought it was the right time to apply some pressure.

SS: You flop bottom pair and bet three-fourths of the pot when checked to. Can you explain why you decided to bet and how you chose the sizing?

ML: I’m definitely leaning towards denying equity because with bottom pair, there aren’t too many good turn cards. Obviously, it kind of sucks when he calls or does anything besides fold, so I’m not a huge fan of my bet there. But that’s what I did at the time. (laughs)

I sized up because I didn’t want to make it where he could check-raise light. It would end up being too much of his stack for him to do that. That’s why I made it as big as I did. I was just taking away that option from him without playing for stacks.

SS: You decide to size down on the turn. It’s not a play I see very often. Why did you choose such a small size?

ML: I think that size attracts some of his weaker draws to hang around. And if he decides to raise me then I can peel. I don’t necessarily have to get it in with this hand at this point. I don’t want to give a free card to something like a gutshot. And when he does call, I get to build the pot with a strong hand.

SS: He does call. And the river brings in a flush draw. You decide to bet the river very big. Were you completely discounting flushes from his range?

ML: When he didn’t check-raise the flop, I don’t think he would have diamonds very often. This goes back to my big sizing on the flop. I thought he would check-raise a strong draw on the flop to try and pick up a pretty big pot already. He could just go for it.

And with the flush getting there, it kind of makes my hand look super bluffy. It’s a card that makes me maybe slightly more likely to barrel away and I could get all the light calls with a pretty good two pair. I had already done some weird stuff against him. This was within about ten hands of that king-high call, so I was clearly capable of messing around with him.

SS: Did you show him any bluffs earlier in the match?

ML: I believe a few hands prior, I had also bombed the river. That was a bluff, but I did not show it. There was also one time where he had rivered trips, bombed, and I overbet shoved on him. He showed me trips, but I had rivered a flush.

It seemed like I had been getting the best of him in certain spots and that definitely wears mentally on you in a heads-up match. It happens and it really sucks. When I lost that $888 heads-up match a couple summers ago, I think I played like 50 hands and lost 38 of them.

There’s not much you can do in those situations. Downsizing the turn and then betting big on the river just makes it a funky hand, and there’s just not a ton he can really put me on. He [didn’t show], but he said he called me down with a pair of tens. ♠