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Run it Twice -- Brian Rast

Rast Discusses a Pot-LImit Omaha Hand Against Phil Ivey


Brian RastBrian Rast has earned nearly $1 million in live tournaments, but that pales in comparison to the money he makes playing high-stakes cash games. Online, he’s better known as “tsarrast,” and he regularly competes in the famous $500-$1,000 half pot-limit hold’em half pot-limit Omaha games. He sat down with Card Player to discuss an interesting pot-limit Omaha hand.

The Game

Date: 3-19-09
Blinds: $500-$1,000
Game: Pot-limit Omaha

The Lineup

Seat 1: durrrr ($399,096)
Seat 2: OMGClayAiken ($243,641) — Button
Seat 3: trex313 ($44,888) — Small blind
Seat 4: Gypsie Queen ($118,997) — Big blind
Seat 6: Brian Rast ($358,280)
Seat 7: Phil Ivey ($105,097.50)
Seat 8: HarrisMP ($48,997)
Seat 9: David Oppenheim ($74,332)

Key Concepts

  • Limping preflop in early position with good hands can help pot control preflop
  • Always keep in mind the necessity to balance ranges
  • Player dynamics affect decision making

Run it Twice — Review of Hand

Preflop Action: Rast limps in with KHeart Suit 9Spade Suit KDiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit. Ivey raises to $4,000. Everyone folds, and Rast calls. The pot is now $9,500.

Kristy Arnett: Why did you decide to limp with this hand?

Brian Rast: This is a nine-handed full table. I have a pretty good hand, but I’m under the gun. If I open with this hand and anyone with position on me reraises me, I’m going to hate my life. If any of the deep stacks reraise me, then they don’t have to have aces. My hand is probably OK against their range, but my hand doesn’t really play that well. I’m kind of disconnected. I can only really make goofy straights that are not the nuts. I’m pretty much playing my kings and my king-high flush draw. I would sometimes limp this hand, and sometimes raise it. I almost never open limp in PLO, but in pretty tough games, when I’m in early position, I think it’s OK sometimes. In PLO, it’s much more likely players will pick up a playable hand, and against aggressive good players, they will punish you and reraise you to make you play a huge pot out of position. Whereas if I limp and they raise, now I’m only playing a single-raise pot. Although, in six-handed games, I never limp. I just play tighter in early position. This is just a way to pot control preflop.

KA: I’m sure it’s important to balance your range with a preflop play like this, so what other hands would you do this with?

BR: Exactly, if I’m going to be limping, I can’t just be doing this with unconnected kings. I have to do with other hands, too. I would do it with wrap-type hands, but if I had a double-suited wrap hand, I’d probably almost always open it, since I’m totally OK getting reraised with a hand like that, but with a hand like 10-9-7-6 single-suited would be good. There’s not that much difference between that and 10-9-8-6 double-suited other than that it’s just a little weaker, so maybe I’ll limp with it. This way, my opponents won’t really know what I have. They might know that I don’t have double-suited four in a row if I limp, although maybe once in a while I’ll limp with that and reraise someone and play it like aces. The basic idea with balancing your range is to not do the same thing all of the time with a hand so that people don’t know what you have, based on your actions.

KA: What were you thinking when Ivey put in a raise and it folded to you?

BR: I thought my hand was probably good. He’d raise with a lot of hands to isolate me and take down pots. You could argue folding here, and I might have if my kings were a little weaker. I thought I was ahead of his range.

Flop Action: The flop came JDiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit. Rast checked, and Ivey bet $7,000. Rast reraised and made it $30,500. Ivey called. The pot was $70,500.

KA: On this flop, what are you thinking about when deciding whether or not to check or bet?

BR: Phil C-bets [continuation bets] a lot, more often than most poker players. On this flop, I’m OK playing my hand heads up for $100K stacks. In a three- or four-way pot, there’s a good chance someone could have the nut-flush draw, but heads up, if I’m going to limp-call a raise out of position preflop, I should be willing to go with the hand if I flop an overpair and diamonds. Since Phil C-bets a ton and will fold if he doesn’t have anything, I felt like this was a good spot for me to check-raise, and take down the extra bet when he doesn’t have anything, and when he does, I’m not super happy getting it in for $100,000 stacks, but I’m usually happy enough. Basically, when he does want to get it all in with me, I’m not crushing his range. In poker, you have to take chances sometimes, and against someone who continuation-bets all of the time, you have to try and pick up that flop bet when you have equity and are willing to play for stacks.

KA: How are you reevaluating when he just calls your check-raise?

BR: His call could mean a few things. If he had a set, I think he’s always just getting it in on the flop, figuring he’s a favorite. His call could mean he has two pair, and he wants to see whether or not a diamond rolls off on the turn. It basically means his range is a little weaker. Usually people will call in position here with hands that aren’t draws. They want to let a card come off and manage the betting. Let’s say he has J-8-7-6, so he has two pair and no real draw. He’s not ahead of much if he just jams [goes all-in on] the flop, because a lot of hands that are getting all in on this flop are drawing hands. When getting it all in with two pair and no draw with two cards to come against a big draw, you are probably behind. So, now I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the nut-flush draw or like a set, because I think he’d go all in on the flop.

Turn Action: The turn was the 10Diamond Suit. The board read JDiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit 10Diamond Suit. Rast checks, and Ivey bets the pot of $70,500. Rast goes all in, and Ivey puts in his remaining stack of $97.50. The pot was $211,695.

KA: The turn card is obviously good. Why did you decide to check?

BR: Based on my read on the flop, I’m sure I have the best hand, so now I need to decide whether I check or bet. I can’t just bet half pot, because that would be weird. I’d have to bet pot, but I think that doing that would allow him to play really well against me. If he has a queen-high flush, he’s probably calling me. If he has a nine-high flush, he probably hates his life but calls, too. Anything less, he might fold. I’m not sure what Phil thinks about my game, whether I’m good or bad, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think I’m really crazy. If I’m potting the flop and then jamming the turn when the flush card comes, he’d put me on a flush most of the time. The times I don’t have a flush, I have like top set and I’m just jamming instead of check-calling. I felt like the best play, given what he thought of me, and based on my read of his hand on the flop.

Since I put him on a hand like a weak two pair or a possible a weak straight or flush draw, I should check here on the turn, so he might try to bluff me or even think his hand is best if he has a weaker flush. If I bet here, he’s just going to fold most hands.

Outcome: The river was the 3Club Suit. The board read JDiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit 10Diamond Suit 3Club Suit. Ivey showed KClub Suit 9Club Suit 10Heart Suit 2Diamond Suit. Rast showed KHeart Suit 9Spade Suit KDiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit for a king-high flush. Rast won the pot of $211,692 after rake.

KA: Were you surprised he called the raise on the flop with his hand?

BR: I am a little surprised. His hand is pretty marginal. The problem with his hand, in my opinion, is that a lot of cards that look like they improve his hand aren’t really that good for him. If he hits a 10 or a 9, even if it’s not a diamond, he can’t really like it, because I might already have jacks-up. If he hits a king that’s not a diamond, he might have the best hand, but that means there are only two left in the deck. He could hit a 2, if I don’t already have a set, and obviously a 7 or a queen that’s not a diamond. It’s a pretty thin call. I think he’s more calling to try and take the pot away from me than for value. Seeing that now, I think I played the hand pretty perfectly. A possible scare card came, and he did what he was setting himself up to do, which was to try to take the pot away.

KA: Anything else you want to add about this hand?

BR: Well, a lot of whether or not this play works is based on your player dynamic. Versus some players who never bluff on the turn, this would obviously be bad. They would think that I had a flush often enough and would just give up and hope that they filled up on the river with the free card. Ivey has more than enough money to play the game, and if he thinks he can win the pot by betting $70,000 on the turn because I might fold a better two pair, he’ll do it. He was a pretty good person to check to here and try and to get him to bluff rather than other people.



over 11 years ago

In other words..."I beat Phil Ivey one time!!!!"