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The Poker Play Part II -- Vladimir Geshkenbein

EPT Snowfest Champ Discusses Hand From Final Stages Of Event

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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.