Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Poker Hand of the Week: 7/31/15

You Decide What's The Best Play


Give us your opinion in the comments section below for your chance at winning a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.

Ask any group of poker players how you played your hand and they’ll come up with dozens of different opinions. That’s just the nature of the game.

Each week, Card Player will select a hand from the high-stakes, big buy-in poker world, break it down and show that there’s more than one way to get the job done.

The Scenario

There are 11 players remaining in the biggest tournament of the year. Everyone left is guaranteed a $526,778 payday, but moving up just one more spot on the pay ladder is worth $756,897. With 6,675,000 in chips and blinds of 200,000-400,000 with a 50,000 ante, you are sitting with just under 17 big blinds. The two other short stacks in the tournament are at your table and have about 15 big blinds each.

There are five players at your table, and one in particular is terrorizing the final table bubble and has amassed 53,350,000 in chips. For the last couple of levels, he has been raising a good portion of the hands where it is folded to him.

You are sitting in the big blind and the chip leader raises to 800,000. The action folds to you and you look down at ASpade Suit4Diamond Suit.

The Questions

Do you call, raise or fold? What is a good argument for calling, given the aggressive nature of your opponent? What is your plan if you miss the flop? If raising, how much? Given the stack sizes, do you believe you have much fold equity? Given the situation, is there ever a good justification for folding in this spot?

Daniel NegreanuWhat Actually Happened

In the 2015 World Series of Poker main event, Daniel Negreanu decided to just call with his ASpade Suit4Diamond Suit. He and chip leader Joe McKeehen saw a flop of ADiamond SuitKClub Suit10Diamond Suit.

Negreanu checked and McKeehen fired in a continuation bet of 700,000. Negreanu moved all in and McKeehen called with JDiamond Suit3Diamond Suit for a flush and straight draw.

According to the Card Player Poker Odds Calculator, Negreanu was about a 56 percent favorite to double up. The turn was the 3Heart Suit, however, giving McKeehen additional outs to make two pair or trips.

The river was the QHeart Suit, giving McKeehen the winning straight, and Negreanu collapsed to the floor in disbelief. He was eliminated in 11th place, earning $526,778. McKeehen went on to make the final table with 63,100,000, or about one-third of the chips in play. He will return to Las Vegas in November for the final table.

What would you have done and why? Let us know in the comments section below and try not to be results oriented. The best answer will receive a six-month Card Player magazine digital subscription.



almost 7 years ago

I don't see how Daniel could have played it any other way. He's looking to win, not hold on for one more position up the ladder, and you need some double-ups to win. A4 was enough to call, AA is enough to shove.

He got all his money in the middle with the best hand against a draw hand. Just because he lost, doesn't mean he made a bad decision.


almost 7 years ago

Why not just 3-bet jam it pre-flop? That's the most sensible play to me. You know the guy has a really wide range here, and the min pre-flop raise is obviously a steal attempt without a lot of risk in case of a 3-bet shove. I mean, what's the plan if you miss the flop completely? Check-raise shove against a super wide range where you have no idea if the villain hit anything or is calling or not? 3- bet jam pre-flop gets you in good against a wide range for a potential double up, or you increase your stack nicely when/if he folds.


almost 7 years ago

I think a lot of people here will look too much at the RESULT of the hand in relation to how it was actually played.

Now, let me start of by saying that if I'm at the skill level of Daniel, then calling here is fine. However, I'm not sure what I think about Daniel's decision to play a pot for all of his chips with the hand. With that being said, while I feel I play post flop well, I certainly don't feel I play as well as anyone in the world, so here would be my thought process at the beginning of the hand.

For me, calling here wouldn't be an option. If you flop an ace, you have no choice but to play the pot for all of your chips if your opponent comes out firing without really knowing where you are at. Yes, his range is wide, but if he has A-5 he has you beat. Folding or raising would be the two things I'd consider. I just don't have enough information. Raising (and I know a lot of you are automatically thinking shove, but I still want to give myself options) about 3 or 4 million would be more likely to represent a big hand, and I think had Daniel done this he would have won the pot preflop. If your opponent wants to gamble, then you have the option of folding with 6-7-8 bb's if you flop air. Despite the math, you still have to survive to win. I like folding here the most. Now, if the hand were A-10 instead of A-4, then I'm re-raising here 100% of the time. I think I like folding here a little better than re-raising. You don't have the stack to be re-raising with tiddlywinks, and frankly, the thought of going broke with A-Rag with 11 players left in the ME just doesn't appeal to me.


almost 7 years ago

I would rather shove here. We have enough chips for good fold equity and are a favorite over villians wide range. If we just call, we are out of position and have to connect with flop in some way to continue. Many times we will end up check folding and bleeding chips. DH obviously feels comfortable with just calling here, but I don't think shoving is a bad option either. It gives us more ways to win the pot and chip up with less risk.


almost 7 years ago

In the five-handed game, you are likely ahead preflop with an Ace. ICM complicates the picture given the two shorter stacks at your table, but if you are trying to win and not just trying to survive you should play when you have the best hand in a five-handed game. You don't really have enough chips in a five-handed game to play too conservatively anyway and it only costs you 1 BB to call, which doesn't affect your ICM position much. So the question is how to play the hand. Odds are about 8.5 out of 10 that you won't flop an Ace, and if you do, then there is still a small chance of being behind an opponent's Ace with a bigger kicker, or two pair, or a set. So a plan to call with the hope of hitting an Ace, and folding to any postflop bet if you miss, does not seem like a good plan unless you believe the implied odds are very high when you hit. If you hit the 4 rather than the Ace, you are probably still ahead but may be behind and quite vulnerable in any event if the hand goes to showdown. So calling with the plan of folding on the 2 out of 3 chance that you don't hit either an Ace or a 4 or both also does not seem like a good plan (although being left after the fold with 15BB rather than 16 BB is not much of a difference). On the other hand, most of the time you will be ahead postflop even if you miss the flop. So It would probably be EV positive to plan to call preflop and check-shove postflop no matter what comes on the flop. Being out of position permits that strategy. So the question is whether you should take the risk that the opponent improves on the flop and you lose everything, to gain the additional chips of the expected continuation bet, or do you take the more conservative approach of shoving preflop to try to capture the chips that are already there. In either case you have the risk that your opponent already has a better hand and you will be knocked out, plus the risk that the opponent calls with a worse hand, and sucks out. But you will probably be paid something by the aggressive player if you take the additional risk of seeing the flop and give him a chance to continuation bet. And if he missed the flop, as he will 2 out of 3 times, he might be more likely to fold then than he would have folded preflop. If you believe the aggressive player will make a big enough postflop continuation bet to justify the risk that he improves, you should plan to call/check-shove, and if you think he won't, you should shove preflop. He made essentially a pot size bet preflop. So how big does his postflop bet have to be to justify your taking the incremental risk? How much would you pay to avoid a 1/3 chance of being knocked out of the tournament, in a context in which surviving the risk of getting knocked out in this hand improves your chances of surviving a while longer thereafter. It would be great to see some comprehensive math around these questions, as they come up all the time late in tournaments. Of course if you follow the call/check-shove plan and he shoves postflop, you probably have to follow through with a call...unless you are Daniel and you already know what cards your opponent is holding.


almost 7 years ago

Well written.


almost 7 years ago

Like Heidi Klum says on "Project Runway" about Fashion - "You are either in or you are out" It's either a fold or a push. You really don't want to see a flop with a weak Ace out of position.


almost 7 years ago

Depending on my mood, I would've shoved or folded, just calling does not seem to be the best option to me. It would also depend on the cards I'd been getting before this hand. If i'd been looking at trash for a long time, A-4 would have looked like a miracle to me and I would've shoved and lived with the consequences.


almost 7 years ago

If you play the hand, you shove preflop. Folding is too safe, and calling is too risky. But I haven't made millions playing tourneys, so maybe Daniel was just right at the wrong time.


almost 7 years ago

Break it down...

1) Is this the best hand at this stage? Probably, he's raising such a wide range we can't give him credit for a hand here. RULE OUT FOLD AS AN OPTION.

Now, calling vs raising....

Call and hit the A = all in
Call and miss = fold

What flop are we wanting to hit with this hand? A 9 J where he calls with his J? and we can double up? Why not get it all in now then? (if we want a call with worse when we hit our Ace then we're ahead now)

Also consider what hands we will get a call from when we hit our Ace. There will be draws, hands that beat us, and some hands that are worse but like we said before, shouldn't we have jammed pre-flop if we assume he has worse than an Ace high?

If we shove pre-flop...

He calls and we win
He calls and we lose
He folds and we win

We have given ourself an extra way to win, Villains stack size doesn't always mean he will call here since his range is SO wide - giving us good enough fold equity. And if he is committing to any hand after a 3-bet all in then there are so many hands in his range that we are beating pre-flop and we're happy to get it in against.

Basically, we're committing 100% of stack with an all-in which gives many hands the ability to fold, and many worse hands the ability to call

We're also committing all of our chips with Daniel's line, should we hit our ace...

Personally, an all in pre-flop makes sense to me for these reasons:

1) Worse hands will call some of the time = we win the majority of the time.
2) Worse hands will sometimes fold = we win.



almost 7 years ago

What would you have done and why? Everyone left is guaranteed a $526,778 payday, but moving up just one more spot on the pay ladder is worth $756,897

The 230K jump is life changing money for me so in this spot, in this tournament, I puss out and fold looking for a better spot. That's just me in this tourny, in this spot.

In a daily tournament that I play I am jamming 100% of the time in the same situation.


almost 7 years ago

Based on everything you stated going ALL IN pre flop is what he should have done..plain and simple.


almost 7 years ago

I believe Daniel ended up laying on the floor because he knew he had made a mistake; not because he had lost to the draw. He realized he should have never let Villain's hand see the flop. He should have had the courage to shove pre-flop. He felt he was ahead with the A4 or he would have folded. But he was out of position and had zero idea of what Villains two cards were because Villain was raising with virtually any two cards.

Why shove and not make a smaller raise? First of all his highest EV was his fold equity and shoving makes Villains call incorrect with most of Villains range, so a fold is highly likely. Secondly, if he is called and does not hit an ace, which is 8.5:1 against, he is out of position and is almost forced to check raise all in with the odds of him having the best hand much lower post-flop and lacking fold equity much of the time - as happened here. Shoving is the best play.

Shoving he picks up $1.65MM versus folding if Villain folds. That is a 25% increase in chips. That is very significant. Another outcome is he doubles up if called. He could get called with a worse hand such as KQ and have a statistical edge. Or he could get called with 22 or 33 and be flipping, or get called with any other pair from 44 to KK or a bigger ace and be behind but get lucky. Doubling up to over $13MM is also very significant in terms of ICM. So in balancing out the risk/reward to me it is a clear case of shoving pre-flop as the best play.

The exception would be if you had a visual read that strongly told you Villain was strong. Then a fold is justified, as folding is the second best play. But Daniel had a good read as he is very good at reading an opponent and he did not fold. And I think he regrets not shoving. Even the greatest players make mistakes and Daniel is one of the very best. My opinion.