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Poker Hand Matchup: Pavel Veksler vs. Scott Wellenbach

Swords T 6 4 3 2

Pavel Veksler

Win Pre-Flop Win Post-Flop Win Post-Turn

Starting Stack: 3,760,000

2 2

47.71 %

10.4 %

13.64 %

Winner!

Scott Wellenbach

Win Pre-Flop Win Post-Flop Win Post-Turn

Starting Stack: 3,860,000

T 9

50.55 %

89.6 %

86.36 %

Posted On: Feb 06, 2019


Outcome

Preflop, five-handed action at the final table with blinds of 60,000-120,000 with a 120,000 big-blind ante. Pavel Veksler raised to 240,000 from the button. Scott Wellenbach called from the big blind. On the flop Wellenbach checked. Veksler bet 330,000. Wellenbach called. On the turn Wellenbach checked. Veksler checked. On the river Wellenbach checked. Veksler bet 875,000. Wellenbach called.

Analysis

Pot controlling top pair from out of position in a raised pot is a common practice in tournament poker. By check calling the flop you avoid building too big of a pot with just one pair, while simultaneously encouraging weaker hands to try to continue bluffing by under-representing your hand. This works particularly well when your top pair is aces or kings, as in that case there are either no overcards or just aces that you have to worry about hitting the board on later streets. As your top pair gets lower, there are more and more scare cards that could give your opponent the best hand or even just make your decisions tougher on the turn and river. Scott Wellenbach flopped top pair with 10-9 after defending his big blind against the button raise of Pavel Veksler. He opted to check-call the flop, and then check both the turn and river. No overcard came, and having shown no aggression at any point during the hand, it is tough for him to fold to Veksler’s river bet. He ends up paying off the rivered set, which is just going to happen sometimes when you take the pot control approach. Just because he lost the hand does not mean that Wellenbach necessarily played it poorly, as the same approach might have lead Veksler to bluff the river had he not improved. Also, by including a hand as strong as top pair in his checking range, he made it harder for his opponents to feel comfortable firing multiple barrels when he check-calls the flop.

 
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