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Poker Hand of the Week: Cliff Josephy vs. Gordon Vayo

Let Us Know How You Would Have Played The Hand


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 Hand

With just three players remaining in the 2016 World Series of Poker main event, Cliff Josephy raised to 2,500,000 on the button. Gordon Vayo called from the small blind and chip leader Qui Nguyen three-bet to 7,700,000 from the big blind.

Josephy called, as did Vayo. The flop came down KDiamond Suit3Club Suit2Spade Suit and Vayo checked. Nguyen bet 9,900,000 and Josephy called after about a minute in the tank. Vayo also called and the turn was the 4Diamond Suit.

Vayo checked, Nguyen checked and Josephy bet 21,000,000. Vayo moved all in for 75,100,000 and Nguyen quickly folded. Josephy called, turning over 2Diamond Suit2Club Suit for bottom set, but Vayo held 3Diamond Suit3Spade Suit, leaving him drawing to just one out. The river was the 6Diamond Suit and Gordon dragged the pot.

The Questions

What do you think of Nguyen’s preflop three-betting size? Should Nguyen be making a continuation bet into two opponents on such a dry flop? Given the effective stack sizes, what do you think of Josephy’s turn bet? Is he betting for value or to protect his hand? If Josephy didn’t have near the top of his range, would Vayo’s all-in bet still have been a good move? Would Vayo have been better off just calling the turn bet, hoping to get more action from Nguyen? Is there any way for Josephy to get away from his hand?

The Aftermath

Qui NguyenAfter doubling up Vayo, Josephy was left crippled down to just eight big blinds. Although he battled back a few times to make things interesting, he ultimately went out in third place, earning $3,453,035.

Vayo went on to finish in second place, taking home $4,661,228. Despite his unconventional playing style, Nguyen ultimately won the tournament title, the bracelet and the $8,005,310 first-place prize.

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 5 years ago

In a 3 handed game and you have a raise and a call into you with AJ in the BB, I agree with the 3 bet and the sizing from Nguyen. Button can have anything and I have to put Vayo on somewhat of a polarizing hand that wants to see a flop out of position to the button raise although not that strong such as a suited connector or small to medium pair. No way Vayo has AK, AQ or a large pr. If so, he 3 bets Josephy’s button raise. Both opponents call and not 4 bet which is very telling in that situation. When the flop is checked to Nguyen he has to bet to represent AA, AK or large pr such as QQ, JJ, 10,10 with only 1 over card. The sizing is perfect. Once both opponents call, he knows his hand is over and hopes an A does not hit the turn! When the turn is checked to Josephy on the button, he has to feel he has the nuts as he has to assume one or both of his opponents have AK, and/or KQ and has to bet. (Nguyen could have turned a flush draw with AQd or had 55 and was hoping to see a free river). I agree that Vayo should jam the turn as his hand is vulnerable to drawing to a larger set or a 5 may hit the river giving an A a str. Now when Vayo jams the turn, Nguyen is still in the hand. He is jamming into 2 players which signals real strength of his hand and is happy to see Nguyen snap fold. The only hands he can have in that spot is AK, KQ or 33. There is zero chance Vayo has any type of 44, straight or flush draw. He never calls a flop bet with those hands against 2 opponents. Josephy is armed with the knowledge that Vayo on 2 occasions previously folded 33 to a 3 bet so he had to conclude that Vayo slow played AK or maybe had KQ and paid it off. Now in all reality, a “Fog of War” comes into effect when you flop a set. (I can only imagine the magnitude of it in that situation!) You have convinced yourself you have the nuts and you can never lose. After hours of analysis after the fact, (Josephy does not have the luxury of that much time to decide), it seems obvious that Vayo has to have the hand he had, but tough to see and I would have to believe that 9 out of 10 players make the call.


almost 5 years ago

of all the hands you decide to pick one that was pretty much fate. 3 handed and you flop a set, your not going anywhere. chances are your going to try to protect your set on the turn with the flush draw out there. like Bax did betting 21mil on the turn. Hes not betting 21mil to fold. and like i said, 3 handed your not going anywhere with a set. your going to take it and run with it, even if you get some kind of hint that your behind. causes chances are your hoping that the other guy has a King with a big kicker and hes betting big because he wants to get people out of the pot. or pair and the nut flush draw. not another set. with Qui betting so much, it educes so much action that these two were destined to get all in. 9,6,5 maybe even 4 handed that hand might get played differently, but i really think you have to look that it was 3 handed and i dont think ive ever folded a set 3 handed for the tournament cause your just so happy you flopped a set... and as for playing Qui's hand, i have no problem continuing after a reraise preflop on that board. if no one has a king, your putting Bax or Vayo in a tough position if they have 88 or 77. he was putting pressure on people all night, no reason to stop there.

the hand you should of posted was Bax folding AQ to Qui's 6's i think. Vayo opened, Qui flat calls, Bax re raise, Vayo fold, Qui all in... should be a what would you do in that situation? cause that was huge and given the facts of the hand it would suggest Qui is not super strong, cause he would of reraised Vayo. key situation that i think Bax missed out on. i dont blame him with all that money on the line and folding, but i think you just curse Qui out for making that bet and make the crying call to gamble for the biggest tournament in all of poker.


almost 5 years ago

Cliff proclaims he knew Vayo had 33. Being he makes this proclamation fold your set as you have plenty BBs to claw your way back into contention. Vayo was tighter than anyone on final table and made zero moves...FOLD...YOU SAID YOU KNEW YOU WERE BEAT and you were right. One outers don't come around very often and I know while easier said then done he should have folded.


almost 5 years ago

Set over set is the common case of the flop in the poker game. As a professional player, Mr. Josephy must think deeply before making the decision.
When Nguyen checked, Josephy must also check to see how Vaye reacted because of the three hands involved in this case. If Vayo goes all in, Nguyen eventually fold and Josephy would have more clues to decide his move. That may avoid the damage. When he bet 21 millions chips he has already committed his investment and it was very hard to fold the hand. When I watched the clip, I noticed that he (Mr. Josephy) was very nervous right after Nguyen checked and before he committed his chips with 21 millions bet.

Just an opinion.


almost 5 years ago

Set over set is the common case in poker? What game do you play?


almost 5 years ago

taodung will put in his 10 cents
first ? qui nguyen play
qui player profile is lag ( thats means he likes to bet and raise alot )
qui 3 bet size is correct ( around 3.1 x the raise size )( aj in the big blind 3 handed to a lag (qui is a lag) 3bet no brainer
qui flop cbet of 30% of the pot is correct ( thats what good lag player do )
qui turn play of check/fold was the correct play ( qui took his shot and missed )( his pot odds are 45% and qui win equity is 10% fold is his best option no brainer)
gordon and cliff player profile are tight aggressive (thats means thier trappers and wait to get the edge and then go for the kill )
taodung says all players played their player profile to a T (all players play their cards correctly but taodung like qui the best smart lag )