In 2016, the $111,111 WSOP One Drop brought out a who’s who of poker’s elite. A stacked final table boiled down to two of the greatest players in the game’s history.
With $3 million banked, Dan Smith and Fedor Holz took their seats to play for an additional $2 million. Unsurprisingly, some fireworks ensued with both players more than willing to make big bluffs if the opportunity presented itself.
The hand in question today features one such bluff.
Watch the video below or keep reading for a written recap and analysis:
Editor’s Note: This article is by Irish tournament pro and Unibet Poker ambassador David Lappin (follow him on Twitter here). Alongside Irish poker legend Dara O’Kearney, David produces and hosts the GPI global poker award-winning podcast ‘The Chip Race” sponsored by Unibet Poker. All episodes are available on Apple Music, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
Game: WSOP One Drop $111,111
Format: No Limit Hold’em
Ante: 100k per player
1st Place: $4,981,775
2nd Place: $3,078,974
Fedor raises to 2.5bb with A♣️ 7♥️ and Dan calls with K♦️ 8♣️.
This action is as standard as it gets. Dan liked the idea of 3-betting with his best and worst King-X holdings while calling the ones in the middle.
K♦️ 8♣️ is certainly a middling one. Elaborating on his overall strategy, Dan makes an interesting point about the higher importance of executing a well thought out, coherent strategy rather than getting bogged down in the ‘exact specifics’ of a strategy.
That said, let’s take a moment to get bogged down by the exact specifics of the strategy. Here’s the heads-up big blind calling range versus a 2.5x open from the Upswing Lab (this chart is actually for 100bb play, but it’s still helpful to look at):
As you can see, Dan’s exact hand of K8o is a pure call here. The suited version of Dan’s hand plays a mixed strategy, calling 50% of the time and 3-betting the other 50% of the time.
Note: Want to know how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games, heads-up and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!
The Pot: 5.3bb
The Flop: 5♥️ 4♦️ 2♦️
The Action: Dan checks. Fedor bets 2.7bb. Dan calls.
Dan’s check is standard. Fedor’s decision to bet half-pot is debatable.
Dan likes the bet as he believes that it will capture most of the equity, although these days he would prefer a split between a small and larger sizing c-bet. The solver, however, prefers to check back 91% of the time and to bet small the other 9%.
Dan’s decision to call is interesting. His king-high has showdown and some backdoor potential, but equity is more difficult to realize out of position. So, Dan’s hand is a pretty cute check-raise candidate with plenty of turn cards on which he can continue to barrel.
The Pot: 10.7bb
The Turn: (5♥️ 4♦️ 2♦️) J♥️
The Action: Dan checks. Fedor checks.
Overall, both players played their hands well on the turn.
Dan’s check is standard; it’s not a good card for him so it’s a certain check-fold spot.
Fedor has a hand that could be ahead sometimes and could improve so he checks.
The Pot: 10.7bb
The River: (5♥️ 4♦️ 2♦️ J♥️) 3♦️
The Action: Dan bets 18.3bb. Fedor folds.
Dan gets to the river with very little showdown, but he can represent a strong hand on the 3♦️ by betting.
Any ace makes the wheel and any 6 makes a better straight. So, with the K♦️ in his hand, Dan decided that he wanted to polarize his range and represent a nutted hand — in other words, a flush. The way Dan achieved range polarization was with a really big overbet — 1.7x pot — designed to make straights indifferent to calling.
Dara used PioSolver and Poker Snowie to analyze the river spot and both approved of Dan’s decision to overbet, placing ultimate importance on Dan having the K♦️. Crucially, Dan absolutely nailed his sizing too.
Fedor folds the wheel and Dan wins the 29bb pot.
Fedor ended up winning the tournament, however, taking home $4,981,775 compared to Dan Smith’s $3,078,974.
When firing a river bluff, it is important to have target hands in mind that your opponent should fold. It is also critical to use when possible cards in your own hand that block the calling range.
In this spot, on the biggest stage, versus one of the toughest opponents, Dan Smith had the composure and presence of mind to understand the value of the K♦️ in his hand and to realise that a big overbet was necessary to get the job done.
What do you think of Dan’s bluff?
Let us know in the comments below.
If you want more tournament hand analysis, check out How Would You Play Pocket Aces at This Final Table? (Analysis).
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