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Blake Cahail -- What's My Line? Part I

Cahail Takes Us Through Two Hands With Victor Ramdin and Daniel Negreanu

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Blake CahailBlake Cahail is one of the best up-and-coming players on the tournament circuit today. After turning 21, Cahail focused his attention on live tournament play and quickly found success alongside buddies like James "mig.com" Mackey and Blair "blur5f6" Hinkle.

In March 2008, Cahail final tabled the $10,000 Wynn Classic championship event, finishing in third place to earn $177,510. Since then, he's added four more final tables, including a win in the Caesars Palace Classic for $37,324 and a chopped victory at Festa al Lago for $63,290.

Heading into the L.A. Poker Classic with more confidence than ever, Cahail rode a short stack for two days, carefully picking his spots and slowly chipping up in the process. After the final table of nine was set, Cahail was suddenly one of the chip leaders, becoming a serious threat to make his first televised final table. Unfortunately, the young pro received a cooler when his A-K ran into Chris Karagulleyan's pocket kings.

Still, his seventh-place finish earned him another $180,403 and the respect of the poker community. Cahail took some time out to talk to Card Player about two big hands he played along the way with two of the game's most popular players.
 

Event - Blinds/Antes L.A. Poker Classic 400-800 with a 100 ante.
Player Blake Cahail Victor Ramdin
Chip Counts About 97,000 About 76,000
Hand A 7 10 8


Hand No. 1 -- Ramdin Makes a Great Laydown


Victor RamdinBlake Cahail raised in middle position to 2,000, and Victor Ramdin called on the button. The blinds folded, the flop came Q 7 4, and Cahail checked.

Ramdin bet 3,200, and Cahail made the call. The turn was the 5, and Cahail checked. Ramdin checked behind, and the river was the 3.

Cahail bet 11,000, Ramdin raised him to 25,000, and Cahail moved all in, having Ramdin's last 46,000 covered. Ramdin tanked for several minutes, pausing sporadically to ask a few questions of his opponent.

"Will you show if I fold?" asked Ramdin. Cahail didn't flinch, and Ramdin continued with his speech. "I'm hoping you think that you can win here with a 6."

After a few more minutes in thought, Ramdin said, "This is sick. I hate this game." Another player at the table warned that the clock might be coming. Ramdin informed the table that it would just be another minute or so. Finally, two minutes later, Ramdin mucked his 10 8 for the third nut flush, explaining to the table, "I think he played bad enough to have a backdoor-flush draw. Such a sick lay-down, but big laydowns win tournaments."

Cahail then said, "All I reallly need there is the naked A and you can't call, right Victor?"

Ramdin then replied, "Yeah, but I don't think you have big enough balls to make that play." The table laughed, including Cahail, who was busy raking in the pot. Ramdin was left with 46,000 and his tournament life.

Cahail kept his hand a secret until a few rounds later, after Ramdin had been eliminated from the tournament.


The Interview


Blake CahailJulio Rodriguez:
This was an interesting hand, particularly because he was able to get away from such a disguised hand. Can you walk us through it?

Blake Cahail:
I raised with the A 7 to 2,000, which was my standard raise at that time. Victor flatted on the button, which he had been doing with a very wide range of hands. I flopped middle pair with the backdoor-flush draw and checked it over, knowing he'd bet anything from air to a made hand.

JR:
You decided to just call.

BC:
Right, the turn was an awesome card for me, because I picked up the nut-flush draw to go with my pair. There could have been some action right there, but he decided to check behind.

JR:
The river is where the action really picked up.

BC:
It was the 3, which honestly couldn't have been a better card for me. It was perfect because not only did it give me the nut flush, but it also gave him the straight if he held a 6. If that were the case, I didn't think he could put me on a runner-runner flush so easily.

JR:
You decided to bet the river, presumably because he checked the turn.

BC:
I just about potted and bet 11,000. He raised me to 25,000, leaving himself 46,000 behind. I had him covered, so I put on my best Hollywood act that I could do and moved all in. I tried to pretend that I was making a move with a hand holding the naked A. It didn't matter, though, because he was able to get away from it.

Blake CahailJR:
Did you think he was tanking for so long with a flush, or did you think he was trying to justify a hero call with a hand like two pair?

BC:
I definitely didn't put him on hearts. I honestly didn't know what to think about his hand. The way the hand went down, it made it extremely difficult to put him on something concrete. My best hope, obviously, is that he held the six or a flush and we'd get it all in. I never thought he'd fold with one of those hands.

JR: Do you think he was just overly concerned about protecting his tournament life?

BC:
He made a pretty big laydown earlier in the tournament when he opened with A-K and another guy reraised him all in for a decent chunk of his stack. He folded and justified it by saying that it was for one-third of his stack and he didn't want to gamble with so many of his chips at that point. So, I guess I can't say I was stunned, I just didn't think it would factor in so much once he made his hand on the river.

JR:
What do you think was his ultimate reason for folding?

BC: He ended up telling me that the reason he folded was because he didn't think I was capable of making a play with just the naked ace of hearts. That being said, I don't think he was insulting my game or anything, because if I were a worse player, he could have assumed I was betting the straight or even a worse hand and made the call. It's almost as if I was penalized for getting at least a little respect.

JR: At one point while he was thinking it over, you picked up your cards and motioned them towards the muck, as if you were getting ready to move on to the next hand.

BC:
I was thinking, if he hasn't called by now, he's probably not going to. So it was kind of a last ditch effort to get a call. I thought by doing that he might interpret it as me going out of my way to show strength, which might get him to change his mind. There was also the added benefit of speeding up the hand, because he was in the tank for so long. I'm sure it didn't have the effect I hoped, but at that point, I had to do whatever I could to pick up those chips. It didn't work out, obviously, because he made a great fold.

JR:
If you were Victor Ramdin, sitting in that spot, staring down Blake Cahail, could you have made that laydown?

BC:
Wow, that's a really tough question. I don't know, it was a really tough spot and would be hard for almost everyone to get away from. My best answer is that I wouldn't have put myself in his situation. I would've raised bigger on the river than just to 25,000 and committed myself to the hand. By raising my river bet so small, he basically gave himself a way out of the hand. But if I had been in his position and raised small, I'd like to think that I could fold, as well, because basically the only hand that makes sense in my spot is the A 7.


NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series involving Blake Cahail and his L.A. Poker Classic run. Be sure to check back tomorrow (Saturday) for his second hand analysis about the hand that eliminated Daniel Negreanu near the money bubble.