Half-man, half-machine, Steve Austin was the original six-million dollar man. With superhuman strength and speed, he battled evil for the good of mankind. (I feel like I’m showing my age here!)
In this hand, Daniel “Jungleman” Cates is a modern-day Steve Austin, his superhuman brain battling poker legend Phil Ivey for over six-million HK dollars (worth around $825,000 USD).
The Jungleman discussed this crazy hand with myself and Dara O’Kearney in a Strategy Video animated by ‘The Chip Race’ podcast.
Watch the video below or read on for a summary of the hand and Jungleman’s analysis.
Editor’s note: This is Irish tournament pro David Lappin’s second article for Upswing Poker. Check out his first article Can She Fold a Full House Getting 7 to 1? (Analysis) and/or follow him on Twitter.
The Tournament: Super High Stakes Cash Game in Macau
Stack Sizes: Everyone has 150BBs (HK$3,000,000)
Note: $20,000 Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) is the equivalent of around $2,500, so the blinds are approximately $1,250/$2,500 in USD with $375,000 stacks.
The action folds around to Jungleman on the Button. He opens 5♥ 3♥ to HK$50,000.
Phil Ivey calls in the Small Blind.
The Big Blind squeezes to HK$200,000. Jungleman and Phil both call.
Jungleman’s low suited one-gapper is toward the bottom of his range — in other words, one of the worst hands he would raise — but it’s fine at this (quite deep) stack depth.
Once Ivey calls and the the Big Blind squeezes to only 4x the original raise, Jungleman certainly has compelling pot odds to call in position. But whilst reflecting on the spot, Jungleman thinks that it might not be a +EV (expected value) call after all.
In any case, a key note is that the Big Blind should be raising much bigger, around 5x-6x the original raise, with his range.
Once Jungleman calls, Phil is getting 3 to 1 on a call. That price is so good that it probably keeps in with the vast majority of his range.
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The Pot: HK$600,000
The Flop: A♥ 3♣ 4♦
The Action: Phil checks, the Big Blind bets HK$200,000. Jungleman and Phil both call.
With a backdoor straight-flush draw, a pair and a gutter, Jungleman has plenty of reasons to continue in the hand. The question is should he call or raise the 1/3 pot c-bet from the preflop squeezer.
In-game he elects to call. But looking back on the hand, Jungleman considers the benefits of the raise. He explains how he and Phil have more 2-pair combos (suited A3, A4 and 34) and set combos (33 and 44) than the player in the big blind, which allows for an aggressive raising strategy.
Dara O’Kearney weighs in, saying how he likes the call line.
The Pot: HK$1,200,000
The Turn: (A♥ 3♣ 4♦) 4♥
The Action: Phil checks, the Big Blind checks and Jungleman bets HK$800,000, Phil calls and the Big Blind folds.
The hand just got a whole lot more interesting!
Phil and the Big Blind check, opening the door for Jungleman to turn his baby flush draw + bottom pair + gutshot straight draw into a bluff. This is actually a very cool spot for Jungleman to take a stab with what he calls ‘the best semi-bluff he can have’.
Jungleman discusses the hands that he does not block, feeling them to be as important as the hands he blocks. For example, the Big Blind could have a pocket pair like Jacks, which will almost certainly fold to his 2/3 pot-sized bet.
This bet also puts some pressure on Phil’s weaker Ace-X hands. As played, Phil calls and the Big Blind folds so we see a river heads up.
Note: Jungleman also misspeaks in the video, mentioning how he blocks the 5♥ 4♥ when of course the 4♥ is on board. It’s nice to know that he is human despite all evidence to the contrary.
The Pot: HK$2,800,000
The River: (A♥ 3♣ 4♦) 4♥ 2♥
Stack-to-Pot Ratio: ~0.64:1
The Action: Phil checks, Jungleman bets HK$900,000, Phil shoves for HK$1,800,000 and Jungleman calls.
The improbable Steel Wheel gets there!
Jungleman analyzes Phil’s own range and his own:
Jungleman rejects the possibility of Phil having flushes on this exact runout and puts him on a mixture of near-nutted hands (4♠ 4♣, 3♠ 3♦, A♣ 4♣ and A♠ 4♠), strong hands (trips and straights like 6♣ 4♣, 6♠ 4♠, 5♣ 4♣ and maybe 5♠ 4♠) and weaker hands (Ax).
Jungleman doesn’t have many bluffs, except for maybe 7♣ 6♣ or 7♦ 6♦. He figures that all the full houses and the quads will shove over a bet anyway. Therefore, he focuses on Phil’s straights, trips and Ax combos. Since there are way more Ax possible, he decides to target those with the smaller 1/3 pot sizing.
Phil shows pocket fours for a flopped set, turned quads. Jungleman shows ‘The Steel Wheel’ and wins the HK$6,400,000 pot. Here’s a photo of the hand from Instagram:
Was this a cooler? Yes, of course it was. Jungleman could perhaps have folded to the squeeze preflop, but once he calls both preflop and on the flop, the rest of the hand is a fait d’accomplis.
All the money was going in and there’s not a damn thing anybody could have done to prevent it. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t learn from one of the greatest poker minds explaining his thought process on every street.
We can also reverse engineer Phil’s likely rationale given that the hand went to showdown:
Phil Ivey called preflop with a small pocket pair. Out of position, he check-overcalls the flop. On the turn, Phil has quads (and what he assumes is a lock on the hand). He checks and again just calls Jungleman’s bet. In doing so, Phil is allowing Jungleman to hang himself — disguising his own hand strength while also giving Jungleman the chance to improve to a still inferior hand.
On the river, Phil checks for the third time – maximizing the chance that Jungleman will bluff and perhaps assuming that he might value-bet thinner than he would call.
What do you think of Jungleman’s call pre and on the flop? What do you think of Phil’s just-call on the flop and turn?
Like Dara says in the video, it’s tough to contradict players of this caliber. Still, I want you to try. Let me know in the comments below.
‘The Chip Race’ is a fortnightly podcast sponsored by Unibet Poker. All episodes are available on Apple Music, SoundCloud and Stitcher. We also make a web-show called ‘The Lock-In’ and strategy videos like the one above. They are both available on our YouTube Channel.
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