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The Poker Play Part II -- Vladimir Geshkenbein

EPT Snowfest Champ Discusses Hand From Final Stages Of Event


Vladimir Geshkenbein recently got the attention of the poker world for his performance at the European Poker Tour Snowfest. Geshkenbein snowballed his way over 481 opponents to reach the €390,000 first prize. In this special edition of The Poker Play, the Russian discusses two key hands from the event (see part I for the first hand), and Card Player Europe also asks his opponents their thoughts on the hands in question.

Hand No.2:

Vladimir Geshkenbein: We are down to fourhanded. Blinds are 30,000-60,000. [Kevin] Vandersmissen and I are both big stacks, and two other guys are pretty short. So obviously I try to stay out of the way of Vandersmissen and try to knock out the short stacks. But I can’t stay out of the way when I get A-Ts on the button. So I do my usual raise to 130,000 and Vandersmissen, out of the big blind, comes back with the three-bet to 290,000. Now he is a very aggressive player and knows I don’t want to bust at this stage, as there are still two shorties to go and he has me covered.

My decisions are either to four-bet all-in or to call and see a flop. Usually I would four-bet jam the shit out of him, but I was a bit scared to bust in fourth place and decided to call and see a flop. He also made a fairly small three-bet so I had a good price on the call!

Now the flop comes down ADiamond Suit 9Club Suit 9Heart Suit. He makes his standard continuation bet of around half the pot. I decide to try and keep the pot small in case he has a better ace, while I can still extract value from his bad hands on the turn and river. Sometimes I would raise the flop and call a shove, but as I said I really didn’t want to bust at this stage. The turn comes a 5Heart Suit. Now he checks, and I am thinking what to do. I can bet for value, but the problem here is there are not many hands that are calling my bets on the turn. Also I want to give him the opportunity to bluff the river. So I check back and the river is a jack. The board is now reading A-9-9-5-J.

I am hoping he will check, so I can value-bet or that he will bet so I can snap him off. But to my surprise after about 30 seconds he over-bets the pot — Not big, but around 1.2x over-bet. I did not like that at all. I know it was not a mistake. He is not that kind of guy to do a “misclick”.

While I would have snap-called any normal amount this set me into the thinking mode. What was he representing? From the value range there are only two hands: A-J and J-J. Because every other hand like A-A, or a 9 or 5-5 (basically hands that beat me on the flop/turn), I would expect him to barrel the turn (he knows I like to call). But are there really that many bluffs in his range either? My check-back on the turn suggests weakness, but is he expecting me to fold an ace?

It was a hard decision and I really didn’t like it but in the end I figured his value-range is so small and basically consisting of two hand combinations only so I called. He turned over AClub Suit JClub Suit and tweeted something about value-towning Russian alcoholics… well played sir!

Kevin Vandersmissen’s thoughts on the hand:

Kevin Vandersmissen. Credit: Neil StoddartThe reason why I three-bet the hand preflop is because A-Js is a monster fourhanded and Vladimir was calling almost every three-bet which means his calling range is huge in this spot so I can easily value three-bet A-J versus him.

So he did what I expected, he called. The flop was OK — A-9-9, I c-bet my normal amount in three-bet pots which is mostly less then half pot. I c-bet there because he never has A-K, not a lot of the time he has A-Q but it’s possible, and he might have some floats in his range.

The turn is a blank, I check for pot control because I don’t want to get raised in this spot because that would put me in a very difficult spot. He checks behind which meant for me he also had a hand with showdown value and that he is checking behind also for pot control.

The river is a J, this doesn’t really change a lot but it’s great if he has the A-Q that he could have in rare spots. The reason why I bet so big on the river is because Vladimir and I had a sick meta-game going on, and I thought he would fold a lot of those showdown hands if I bet a normal amount. He also didn’t like to fold in weird spots versus me, I noticed the previous days. So I decided to start some sort of level war and bet big, first I was thinking about a 1 million+ bet but somehow I betted 860,000. I thought such a big bet would mean two things for him about my hand — A nutted hand or a pure bluff.

It’s also a great spot to bet so big because his hand is kind of played face up and he might think I know that the hand was played face up. So he could think I bet so big because I want to get him off that “face-up played hand”.

Check out Part I which features Geshkenbein’s discussion of a hand versus Jan Heitmann.