wsop 1500 6max

$1,500 6-Handed Final Table (WSOP Hand Breakdown) | Upswing Poker Level-Up #41



This article is a transcription of the Level-Up Podcast, hosted by Upswing VP Mike Brady with special guest Aaron Barone. You can watch or listen to the entire episode via the links above or read on if you prefer a written version.

Mike (00:01):

We’ve got a couple of hands from a World Series of Poker final table to share with you today. I’m Mike Brady and I’ve got a special guest with me. He’s a tournament poker pro, 888Poker stream team member and Upswing Poker’s newest coach Aaron Barone. You ready to go through these hands Aaron?

Aaron (00:16):

I’m ready.

Mike (00:17):

All right, let’s do it. So this is the $1,500 buy-in six max final table event #12 at the World Series of Poker. Keep in mind, I’m watching this on PokerGo. If you want to see this entire final table play out and many more this summer, you can go to and subscribe. We’re going to run through two hands from this big final table where over $400,000 is going to the winner. So first we’re going to recap each street and then go back and do the analysis for that street. The action for this one kicks off with Spasov from under the gun raising to 400,000. He’s a strong Bulgarian player. How do you feel about that raise size and everything, Aaron?

Aaron (00:57):

Raise size seems fine. The shallower you get and the deeper you get in tournaments, you want to pick a smaller size I think overall. I think you could still go 2.1 but I think at the point of min or 2.1 we’re probably just splitting hairs here.

Mike (01:09):

I would think so. Action does fold around to Fan in the big blind. We did have one interesting fold earlier in the hand. We’ll talk about that for a moment. So if we just go back a bit, we see that Dube here, Dube perhaps has king queen offsuit under the gun one and he’s going to make a what looks perhaps like a somewhat tight fold. Can you speak to that a little bit, Aaron, because I assume it’s not quite as tight as it looks.

Aaron (01:35):

I think there are two options here that I’d like with king queen offsuit and it’s either three betting or folding. I think flatting this versus an under going to open, we don’t know how tight Spasov’s been playing but just generally thinking about how ranges are, I don’t want to be flatting it but by three betting it you can actually move your opponent off some better hands. How does Ace Jack feel when you get three bet here, by under the gun plus one. How does Ace five suited feel? Even pairs as strong as pocket eights probably don’t feel great, especially given the ICM and the stack setups that exist at this table. So I think three betting is reasonable and you’ll want to do it some of the time. I think folding is also fine. I don’t mind folding. I just really would hate calling. I think calling is the one decision that I would say I’m way against, but whether you’re deciding to three bet or fold here, really you can mix it. I think you’re supposed to mix it and not do one a hundred percent of the time. So his decision’s totally reasonable.

Mike (02:34):

Yeah, I mean calling is especially bad when there’s so much ICM pressure of the situation. You have Gordon behind with a big stack, you have Fan behind with a bigger stack. Yea has about the same chips as you so you can’t really be hopping in there willy-nilly. So it does get back around to Fan think clear defend with Ace Jack in the big blind. Would you agree?

Aaron (02:51):

Yeah, definitely not folding Ace Jack. There’s an argument for using it as a three bet and again it comes down to how wide do you think the original raiser is opening, what hands you can make them fold. How does Spasov feel with pocket eights when he gets three bet here? How does it even feel with Ace Queen? Like a better hand than ace Jack? So it depends what you want to use in the spot as a three bet bluff and that obviously goes back to how you think your opponent plays. I think flatting is fine. I have no problem with flatting. I would say if I was choosing different combos of Ace Jack, I’d rather flat suited and three bet off suit just because the suited hands are going to play a lot better and therefore have more equity.

Mike (03:33):

Sure, yeah, I could see Ace Jack making its way into the three bet bluff range here, but in any case he does call, we see a flop, pretty nasty one of Jack ten three. So middle set versus top pair, top kicker here. Fan checks over to Spasov who has a clear continuation bet I would say, he goes for 350,000 into 1.1 million. Fan with his top pair. Do you think this is a clear decision to call Aaron or do you think there’s any chance he could check raise here?

Aaron (04:03):

I think check raising would be a pretty big blunder in this spot. Once you’ve flatted ace jack in this spot and you flop top pair, you’re still not trying to play for stacks. We could actually argue that in a Chip EV situation you might want to be check raising here it’s your strongest top pair, but we’re no longer in that situation at a final table when the pay jumps are very significant and so I think flatting preflop sort of disguises the strength of your hand a little bit and flatting on the flop does the same thing and the benefit of doing that is you get your opponent to bluff more run outs and that’s sort of what you want when you have top pair even top pair, top kicker, you’re rarely trying, I mean as a flatter, rarely trying to play for all of it, but what you’re trying to do is get the max value and often that means allowing your opponent the opportunity to bluff and he just has a very strong bluff catcher and I think it’s too weak to turn into a check raise.

Mike (04:55):

In other words, if we were not playing at a big final table, if we were just playing early in the tournament or something like that with this stack depth, I think check raising is certainly going to be on the table. It’s probably something that solvers are going to do because at the end of the day you have top pair, top kicker and you’re only playing 40 ish big blinds deep. Generally speaking top pair, top kickers going to be worth the stacks when there’s no ICM considerations and you’re 40 blinds deep so you can check raise, they’re going to have to float you a bunch in theory, you’re going to probably stack King Jack if you get a safe runout and you check raise the flop and you bet bet turn river, but in this situation that’s not really going to be the case. Spasov is going to be very, very careful against a check raise.


He’s not going to float nearly as often as he would if it was early in the tournament. Similarly, he’s going to make hero folds with hands like king Jack and queen Jack by the river a lot more often because of the ICM conditions and of course for Fan, he doesn’t want to double up Spasov here, he has him covered but if he doubles up Spasov in this hand, he becomes one of the short stacks and he ends up in a really, really tough spot. So it’s not like he wants to take even a marginal check raise for value here. He’s going to keep his opponents range wider, he’s going to keep his range wider and he is just going to call that seems like clearly the best play given the ICM pressure of this situation with huge page jumps on the line here. Interesting turn the three of hearts puts a full rainbow on the board, no flush draws and that obviously pairs the bottom card and Fan is going to do something interesting here. He’s essentially going to say this card is better for my range. I’m way more likely to have a three than you. You’re not going to bet this turn as often as I would want you to. So I’m going to lead into you for 500,000 into 1.8 million. What do you think of this play, Aaron?

Aaron (06:39):

I think typically I would agree that the three is a much better card for his range than it is for Spasov and it’s still a better card for his range. You got to think of how many threes he’s defending preflop and I don’t know how tight he’s playing but is he actually defending every suited three in this spot? Is he defending nine three suited or ten three suited or jack three suited if he’s defending those anyway, is he going to lead turn with a full house? So what about seven three suited or six three suited. Six three, five three we have some chip EV defends here with those hands but in an ICM high pressure environment we’re going to be defending them a little less often and those threes comprise the more likely ones in his range. What about off suit threes like alright, I mean is he defending any of them other than Ace three off and even that hand we could talk about.

Mike (07:27):

Yeah, he might fold Ace three off honestly. I mean he’s up against under the gun range who has several stacks behind that hover him in this ICM pressured scenario. So Spasov isn’t going to be particularly loose here. If anything he’s going to be tighter than a typical eight handed under the gun range or rather seven handed under the gun range. Correct. So do you really want to hop in there with Ace three offsuit? I think maybe not. So to your point it might only be like queen three suited, king three suited, four three suited, five three suited really sort of the quote best suited threes, right? Yes.

Aaron (08:02):

So we talk about this card being better for Fan’s range, that might be true but even if we add in those combos of three x, this board is still probably better for Spasov’s range because he has Aces, Kings, Queens, jacks and tens and Fan might not have any of those. Fan might have tens. I mean you could flat jacks here, which I actually would kind of like but a lot of people would just end up three betting it but I would still argue that this board is in favor of Spasov. I don’t mind the decision overall again to be leading. I just don’t think it’s as clear as how we would see this spot normally. Normally you’d say yeah the three is great for big blinds range, here I don’t think it’s as clear cut and so I’d be leading less frequently.

Mike (08:45):

Yeah, that makes sense and it would be a lot different if a turn was something like a ten, right? Or maybe if this was Jack eight four and the turn was an eight, that would be a scenario where Fan would have a lot more trips in his range because Fan would defend pre-flop with a lot of ten x. So if the turn was a ten here he would have a lot more trips than his opponent and that would make sense to leverage by leading that is the thinking here for Fan, it’s just debatable whether or not he has quite enough threes I suppose to support this leading range at least at a decent frequency.

Aaron (09:18):

Well you could argue that because he doesn’t have as many threes, it makes leading ace jack actually better, now it’s one of the better value hands he has other than having a three or a full house. What’s the best hand he can have here? It’s either top pair, top kicker or top two and top two would be a pretty mediocre lead because you block the Jack and the ten from continuing. Here if Spasov has a hand like Queen ten or King ten or a Jack or really any ten Ace King, ace queen, king queen, queen nine, he still is going to probably continue those. So actually when we look at the value hands that Fan could lead here. I don’t think Ace Jack’s a terrible combo for it.

Mike (09:57):

Yeah, I would a hundred percent agree with that. If you’re going to have a leading range Ace Jack is going to be in there a chunk of the time at least if not at a somewhat high frequency, but in any case he does lead for that 500K about a little under third pot and Spasov decides to slow play. He just calls with about two and a half pots behind, he has 6.8 million in his stack and there’s 2.8 million in the middle. I assume you like that decision overall Aaron to just flat the turn, kind of keep Fan’s range wide, allow him to continue bluffing in position as Spasov with a full house here

Aaron (10:28):

I do like the flat and I actually don’t think Spasov should really have raises here at all. Again, it’s not a Chip EV situation so Spasov is more incentivized to survive this hand than get max value. So I think flatting tens is definitely what you should do here on this turn because if you end up raising here and your opponent has a hand like a Jack, they feel pretty bad about it. I don’t know if you’re getting paid but if they have a bluff you’re definitely not getting paid and we talked about it earlier in the hand from actually from Fan’s perspective, you’re bluff catching at times with top pair and I’m not saying you’re bluff catching with a full house here, but you’re giving your opponent the chance to bluff on rivers. So if Fan has nine seven of clubs or Queen eight of spades, you’re going to get more money by calling either because he bluffs the river or he gets there and either way you get extra value.

Mike (11:23):

Right. For sure. This is one of those kind of straightforward spots. I think a lot of people play this kind of situation very intuitively where you have a hand that doesn’t mind if your opponent catches up with a hand like Queen nine and hits a straight or doesn’t mind if they continue to bluff so you slow play it. I think it’s one of those very intuitive situations that a lot of people are just probably getting right. Almost everyone watching would probably know to slow play hands like this in this situation. In any case, he does just call we get the two of diamonds as we get this shot of both players and Fan’s going to bet again. And if I remember correctly, he goes for a somewhat smallish size, see exactly what it is, looks like 850,000. We’ll see when the graphics update in a moment


here, it is on 2x speed by the way guys, so they’re they’re not blinking that fast. I know what you’re thinking. So yeah, he goes 850,000 into 2.8 million, so about third pot or so kind of a block size that strikes me as pretty smart Aaron because we’ve been harping on ICM pressure throughout this entire hand. Spasov isn’t going to be super happy to put in a bunch of chips with a marginal hand against a bet on this river, right? So maybe it makes sense to put this hand in the block size for that reason, although I could probably argue the other side where if Spasov does have a hand like King Jack or Ace Ten, maybe even pocket nines, Ace Jack beats all those hands, a lot of the hands that Spasov can call and maybe you can go for a little bit of a bigger bet. Something more like two thirds. What are your thoughts?

Aaron (12:58):

I believe on final tables overall your bet sizes are actually supposed to be smaller because of the ICM pressure in terms of percentage of pot and things like that compared to Chip EV situations because again, your survival is more important than getting max chip value, right, because survival is so much value in itself. But with Ace Jack here, I think you made the point at the end that all the hands that look up Fan here that are worse than Ace Jack nines, nines is maybe not the best example but we’ll call it pocket sevens, even sixes because they wouldn’t block as many straight draws or King Jack, queen Jack or Ace ten even I think king ten suited is interesting. All those hands that are either worse top pairs, strong second pairs or second pair equivalent we’ll say might call a bet that’s 1.6 million instead of 800K.


And so at that point I think if we’re going to pick one size and we don’t expect our opponent to bluff raise, I think picking the bigger size is the way to go. However, when you pick this small size, something that does happen occasionally is you induce a bluff. If Fan picks the size with the plan of I’m going to be able to induce bluffs here for my opponent and then snap ’em off, I mean I think that’s reasonable. I also don’t think Spasov’s going to have that many value raises here. So that might’ve been going into his thinking.

Mike (14:21):

Yeah, that makes sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fan’s thinking was somewhat as simple as I want him to call here. I don’t think he’s going to be super willing to commit chips, so let’s go for a slightly smaller size with a hand that is very strong but is far from Nutted and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fan also would be going much bigger if he did happen to have a three here with a hand like Ace three suited.

Aaron (14:42):

And there’s also because of how the stacks are set up, if Fan gets called here and wins this pot, he goes to, we’ll call it 13-14 million and Spasov falls down to about 6 million and you look how the table’s set up right with Gordon having 22, Fan would have 14 or so and the next biggest stack would be Dube at nine. Yea at nine. Fan would’ve kind of put himself further ahead of the other middle stacks, which when you are at a final table, we can’t always be the chip leader, but being a comfortable second is actually a great place to be. And in that realm of thinking, maybe it’s better if you bet really small and you think you’re going to get value all the time, separating yourself from other players can have more economic impact for you rather than going for the big size and not getting paid as much. I still think that the range of hands though that Spasov calls with for 800K or 1.6M are almost identical.

Mike (15:40):

Yeah, that makes sense. So Fan might have cost himself some value here in the case where Spasov had a hand like Queen Jack, but in this case Fan made a results oriented good decision to bet small as his opponent raises pretty chunky 4.5 million which is about a pot sized raise, I think a little less than pot sized raise here from Spasov and this is a pretty nasty spot for Fan. Now you did lead small, like Aaron said, maybe that induces some bluffs from Spasov so now you could level yourself into a call and think, well I bet small, maybe he’s just attacking the small bet and pay this off. What would you do in this spot, Aaron? I know it’s hard to be unbiased as you see the cards, but what do you think?

Aaron (16:22):

So I think we have to go back and think about what Spasov’s range looks like, where he raises preflop under the gun and then continuation bets flop, calls turn on this texture. What sort of bluffs can we think he has? Right? I guess king queen, King nine suited might not even open. Queen nine suited I mentioned earlier might not even open, nine eight suited might not open. I don’t know how he plays exactly, but King Queen is squarely in there. I think that’s a hand that’s most likely to be used as a bluff here and if he’s going to bluff king queen and that’s the hand that Fan thinks he’s going to use all the time, it’s kind of tough because Fan has a hand that doesn’t block a king or a queen, right? So if Fan here has King Jack, I think it’s a bet fold that I don’t feel bad about it at all. It feels a little tougher with Ace Jack, but at the same time I think this spot is so drastically under Bluffed, especially at a final table that without having any reads whatsoever, I would lean towards a fold.

Mike (17:20):

And if you think about what Spasov is risking here, should he be bluffing with a hand like King Queen, if he gets called, he’s going to be down to 2.4 million and in this hand he’s going to have gone from being a kind of comfortable middle of the pack stack or somewhat comfortable middle of the pack stack to one of the two shortest stacks kind of competing with Pacheco for the next big pay jump and that’s going to be a really, really cruddy spot for him to be in. So I would guess most human beings, to be frank are just not going to have bluffs here very often. Certainly not as much as a very aggressive super high roller type player would or that a solver would. I dunno Spasov’s game too well. So he could very well be a player who’s capable of making this play, but just on a human level, this is a challenging thing to do as a bluff. Would you agree?

Aaron (18:09):

Definitely. When we think about if someone says, well I could pull that move, I could do that. Well it’s one thing to do it day one of the tournament when you have 200 big blinds and you could rebuy, it’s another thing to do it on a final table, a televised final table and as you said, where you’re one of the middle stacks, it could be in danger of being now one of the shortest stacks. The other thing that jumps out to me here is that this is not true, I’m saying of Spasov but it is of some players, is you look at the raise size he picked, some players here will still bluff their king queen, but they’ll make it 2.85, they’ll make it 2.9, 3.1 and other players fall into the habit of I’m actually going to go bigger with my value bets and smaller with my bluff sizes. So even if they have a correct or so frequency of doing it, they actually make money because they’re picking the bigger size with their value. So when they get called and they have it, they win more money when they get called and they didn’t have it, well I lost less. Because if he makes it 2.8 or even 3.2, I think Fan has a similar range that continues.


And by making it larger here he actually ends up getting more value if Fan decides to call with the Ace Jack.

Mike (19:17):

And let’s go ahead and see what happens here. Fan does stick in the money and Disappointingly has to muck his hand and this ends up being a really key pot. Spasov ends up challenging for this bracelet, no spoilers yet, and in that hand he basically traded places with Fan and more. He went from about 8 million in chips to 14 million in chips. He’s now in second. He’s in just a very, very good spot in this tournament, Simeon Spasov. And our next hand involves Mr. Spasov as well. So let’s take a look at that one.

Aaron (19:48):

Perfect screenshot.

Mike (19:50):

It is. We open up here with Fan making an appropriate face for the hand that he’s about to play. Sorry Mr. Fan, this one is just pretty rough. I do not blame you but this is a brutal spot to get into. So we now have five players left. Each player has locked up $112,000 and again they’re playing for $439,000. The next pay jump is about $40,000 and every pay jump after that is even bigger. Kicks off with Fan


who, I’ll start by saying shouldn’t be playing a ton of hands here. We ran this spot in Hold’em resources calculator before recording just to kind of see how everyone’s supposed to play a typical button open range early in a tournament. It’s going to be about 40% of hands give or take. In this spot as the button considering he’s opening into the very big stack in the small blind and there’s a very short stack in Yea in this hand who’s going to be the big blind in a couple of hands. Fan is actually only supposed to raise about half as often as a normal button range here, about 23% of hands according to the calculation that we ran. So just something to keep in mind right away that he’s supposed to be quite tight here. Spasov, another thing we were surprised about is supposed to play quite loose the calculation we ran, he gets to play around 39% of hands total that’s combined between calling, three betting non all in to six big blinds and three betting all in. So it’s kind of a crazy spot where this small blind is actually supposed to be playing a good bit looser versus a button raise than the button’s initial raise, which has got to be quite rare, right Aaron?

Aaron (21:28):

You don’t hear about that very often, but it does happen in situations where one player has a lot more leverage than the other and that’s clearly the case here, especially with Fan not only being a shorter stack but not being the shortest puts a lot more pressure on him where he can’t defend as wide versus three bets whether not all in or jams and that’s why his open range has to be a lot tighter.

Mike (21:49):

Yeah, Spasov is essentially going to just realize a lot more equity in the small blind here than he normally would. He’s going to be able to run very effective bluffs, he’s going to be able to win pots with medium pairs because his opponent checks down with a hand that might otherwise bluff. There’s just a bunch of different possible run outs for this hand where Spasov essentially wins more often than he is supposed to. So that’s what allows him to play a lot of hands in the small blind here. Then we have Dube in the big blind with the four two suited. This is actually I think probably just a fold with the four two suited. I mean I don’t blame him for calling, he’s getting an amazing price. He only has to call 350,000 to play for a 2.2 million chip pot. So he doesn’t need very much equity but he is the second shortest stack. He kind of wants to stay out of the fray for the most part. Would you agree with that Aaron?

Aaron (22:46):

You can’t get much looser in terms of defending your suited combos than four high. So it’s definitely on the looser side and I think given his stack size, he’s not the clear short stack. There is a stack with nearly about half as many chips as he does and so he does want to stay out of the fray giving the other two opponents in the chance or in the hand a chance to clash and protecting his stack and his equity. So I think folding for sure is the right play with the four deuce suited here. But if it was switched, if Dube actually had the shortest stack of 3 million and Yea had his 6 million, then I could actually argue a flat here is pretty reasonable because when you’re the clear shortest stack, that’s when you’re liable to take some chances.

Mike (23:28):

Right? Yeah, the ICM pressure isn’t so great when you are actually the shortest stack at the table, but in this case Dube does decide to hop in and potentially risk his tournament life in this hand, which is something you generally don’t want to be doing when you’re the second shortest stack and there’s someone sitting behind you with 10 bigs, doesn’t end up mattering. Spoiler alert for him though, we end up with a very interesting pot developing. So it comes ace ten five, two spades, it checks to Fan, he decides to check back with his top pair. What do you think about this checkback on the flop?

Aaron (24:00):

I can understand the desire to check back and I actually don’t hate it. I think it’s one of his weakest Aces he has here. He has to be concerned about two players in the hand, the small blind flat’s a little concerning too in this spot because even though small blind has nine eight suited, we can see it, A lot of his hands will connect with this board. You don’t want to get check raised, getting check raised off top pair is, I mean to put it mildly, very annoying and frustrating and that can easily happen in this spot. How do you feel about a check raise when you’re Fan from either player, really? You don’t feel great and so I understand the checkback. What I will say is that most players here when they check back this flop, they have a hand exactly like this. They have a weak ace, they have a strong ten, they have kings to jacks and if you can correctly put a player in that sort of range when they check back, sure they have a strong ish hand but it’s also a hand that’s going to fold to pressure most often if you barrel turn and river.

Mike (25:00):

Yeah, I mean it’s never going to be too bad to check back basically your worst top pair unless it’s a range bet scenario. But one downside of checking back is you kind of give Spasov the opportunity to potentially run a very efficient bluff against you. As we were talking about, he has the leverage here and if he decides to use it, it might get kind of nasty for Fan and that is actually what ends up happening. Kicks off with Spasov leading out on the turn for 1.1 million. So kind of a chunky bet already it’s only half pot but at a final table with so much money on the line, half pot kind of feels chunky doesn’t it?

Aaron (25:36):

Well definitely sets up for some pot sized ish jams on the end.

Mike (25:41):

And now Dube is in a really nasty spot and this kind of to me sums up why the pre-flop call doesn’t really work very well in this scenario. He has a super strong hand here, he has a gutter with a flush draw and he’s only got 15 blinds. There are not many scenarios in poker where you have 15 blinds and a combo draw and you’re not happy to just hide hoe in your chips. But this is one of those scenarios, it is pretty brutal to shove on here, get calls and now you’re potentially missing out on a 50K pay jump with four high. That is brutal. So now Dube is in a really challenging spot. Do you think he should jam here or what do you think? He ends up folding, which I mean I’m sure he was very pained by that. I could see it on his face and I would be in pain too. What do you think of the play?

Aaron (26:31):

Obviously the concern for him is that either the original raiser has a hand like we’ll say Jack Ten or Ace Jack or King Queen’s very reasonable and the small blind could have a range that includes those hands as well. Although I put ace jack a little bit less likely and even King Queen could just shove. I think if you’re going to play this hand and you’re going to fold this sort of situation, you shouldn’t have played it anyway because you’re not going to realize enough equity. I actually think jamming makes a lot of sense in his spot because you know have the worst hand. But even though both opponents could have really strong hands unless they have the nuts or two pair, I think you’re going to actually generate a lot of folds. I think if Spasov has a hand here like Ace nine suited, I don’t know if he’s going to call off in that spot.


If Fan has a hand here that as strong as Ace Queen, I don’t know if he’s going to call off. Yes, he’s going to call off Jacks, he’s going to call off Ace Jack, he’s going to call off King Queen and Pocket tens that check back, which by the way never check back this flop. So yeah, there are a couple strong hands that Fan can have and there are a few that Spasov can have, but really with Spasov we’re afraid of King Queen, which might shove pre, Jack Ten, which there’s going to be a few combos of that but only suited so three combos of that and maybe Ace Ten, even Ace five feels a little bit loose of a flat, but it’s possible. I actually don’t think I’d be folding here. And the biggest issue with getting the money in is a potential pay jump. But if you think you have enough fold equity then it’s time just to move it all in.

Mike (28:12):

And I mean a really good practice in tournaments for those not familiar with this way of thinking is to kind of think about your position if you make one action and then the position you may find yourself in if you take the other action. So if we just think through that as Dube here, if he folds, he kind of maintains his situation, it actually gets a little bit worse than it was going into the hand. He’s still the second shortest stack. There’s still another player who’s more likely to bust than him next, but he’s not in a great spot by any means to get a significant number of ladders going forward. So that’s one scenario he could just fold. He could jam obviously one scenario of him jamming is he might bust the tournament so that’s the worst case, nightmare scenario for him. But if he jams here and gets it through, he picks up 3.3 million, he gets up to 8 million and he actually becomes the third place stack granted a distant third but he is in third, that is a quite good position to be in at this stage of the tournament. So it’s either fold and keep this kind of not the worst but not great scenario that he’s in, potentially bust or get up to 8 million chips. And then of course there is kind of scenario D where he could potentially get called and hit his draw and then he’ll have an even better third place stack. So that’s possible too. And when I kind of think about all those scenarios and how likely they probably are jamming feels


better, especially if we’re defending the hand pre-flop, I think this is, it almost ran out the dream spot to get it in. But even then I think to go back to the first thing I said about this particular hand, it really encapsulates why it’s not such a great defend because we’re talking it out this much. We’re potentially torn between these decisions. He’s clearly torn with a hand as strong as a combo draw. So I think we just reverse back to pre-flop if we can as Dube, make the fold get out of the way and let these two other stacks battle.

Aaron (30:08):

Yeah, totally agree. And it could also be that if this turn was the jack of diamonds, not the nine of diamonds. I think it’s an easier jam on a nine of diamonds, now you aren’t afraid of as many two pair combos or a king queen. One last thing to consider is a lot of players in this spot, even if it’s close, they’re going to opt towards folding. And it’s not only because of the pay jump, it’s because I don’t want to look stupid at a final table with the cameras on and get all in with four high. I don’t want to be bluffing for the rest of my tournament chips after I’ve came this far. And that itself shouldn’t be a reason for you to do anything. You should be making your decisions based on what you think is profitable and that really should be the end all be all of it. Naturally as humans, we talked about it earlier, we think it’s hard for people to find a bluff in certain spots and that might be true of other spots too like this one because after putting so much time and effort into a tournament, I’m sure people want to walk away saying, well I got the money in good, I feel good rather than I made the best play and it didn’t work out but I can rest on the confidence I have in the play that I made.

Mike (31:15):

Right. Yeah, it makes sense. Well we’ve spent a lot of time on that four high decision but it was an interesting one. Now we get to the two kind of more consequential stacks frankly and we have Fan here with top pair. I dunno about you Aaron, but I almost feel like this hand is already borderline, this Ace six is already in kind of a borderline spot. I mean I think we’re well ahead of Spasov’s betting range overall. I think he’s going to have a bunch of draws, bunch of, I mean all his bluffs are likely to have some equity be some sort of draw, but we’re not going to have great visibility on the river that is, we’re not going to get to show down this hand as often as we would like even though we’re in position against the big stack Spasov in this hand. What do you think about this spot on the turn?

Aaron (32:03):

I agree that it’s close but I actually don’t think we’re doing that well versus range at all. We can see that Spasov has nine eight suited. It’s hard to imagine that many other bluff combos he can have here unless he’s just, I don’t know, flatting like the old queen six offsuit pre like any reasonable flatting hand here. We’ll talk about king Queen, that’s a straight, jack ten two pair, king jack would that bet turn? Weird. Queen jack would that bet turn? Also kind of weird. There’s the nine eight, eight seven, nine seven. Does he go down to seven six suited, I mean maybe, but even the combos he’s going to use, as you said, have equity. I think this is one of the worst ones and we could just be drawing dead. He can have Ace ten or Ace jack potentially he can easily have King Queen. I guess it’s possible that he decided to flat fives off that stack size.


There are a lot more combos where we’re just drawing stone dead and then maybe he actually has a chop. It’s hard to think of just total air ball bluffs that he has here or even low equity bluffs. This is one of the lowest equity ones and it’s quite possible he doesn’t flat eight seven suited or seven six suited or decides not to bet turn with those. Even the other draws like the flush draws. Well sure he could have a flush draw, but what are the two cards that he has that are two diamonds or two spades? Maybe there’s king nine of spades, maybe there’s king nine of diamonds, but the hand isn’t over when we call turn, if we know he’s an aggressive player and this river bricks out with ace six suited, are we going to call on deuce, three, four, seven, eight rivers? Right? And I’m just not sure of that.

Mike (33:45):

Some of those were sort of not even bricks, right, like the seven and the eight, those bring in some draws. The nine will bring in some draws. I do think Spasov can have probably a host of suited kings here specifically. That would be what I’d be hoping for as Fan. I would hope this Spasov’s the guy who might have just straight up king seven of hearts here that he flatted with pre, which is quite reasonable and then now has this gutter and he is just going to bluff with that. And then if he has that, he can also have king eight of hearts and king eight of clubs and all these just like King X hands, maybe there’s some Queen X ones as well. But yeah, like you said, there’s not a huge laundry list of those hands. They do have equity against our Ace six.


Some of them have good equity, so maybe we can just consider a fold turn from Fan. It feels really tight. And then I kind of want to go back to the flop and think maybe we should just be betting more often with hands like this to keep ourselves from capping our range because by checking back the flop, we are kind of showing our hand a little bit unless we’re very, very balanced. But we are kind of saying I have medium showdown value. I have a hand that I want to get to the river with and not put in too many more bets. But if you bet the flop, your range can still contain pocket tens, Ace ten, Ace King, Ace Queen, ace Jack, like those types of hands. And that’s a range that Spasov is going to be much less likely to attack. And then of course on the flop, Spasov had nine high no draw. So results wise he would’ve folded this combo very likely to any flop bet. Do you think there’s something to be said for that? Thinking back to the flop and as Fan, maybe just go for a bet with these types of hands that will otherwise find themselves in some very dicey spots on the turn and river if they check.

Aaron (35:25):

I agree that I think it’s important to try to stay uncapped here. I think the way I would want to approach this spot though is some of the hands you mentioned, I would just check back. I might check back a lot more of my range here than I would normally because of how the other stacks are set up, right? Fan has seven and a half million, Dube has five, Yea has three. So maybe I’m actually checking back a hand as strong as Ace jack, ace queen, ace king. I’m definitely checking back stuff like ten x of spades. I’m checking back King Queens and Queen Jacks and King Jacks. I probably check back Aces here. I might even check back Ace ten. I think having more of my range as a checkback here makes sense. And then when I get to the spot with ace six, I don’t feel like, oh man I have top pair, I’m under repped, I got a call down.


I’ll realize my overall range has a lot stronger hands in it. Speaking of which we talked about folding top pair and feeling weak, but I’d much rather have Queen Jack here or King Jack because now at least I block King Queen. And if you think about it, having King Jack in this spot and having ace six are somewhat similar in terms of hand strength. If we don’t think Spasov has that many top pairs anyway. And King Jack or Queen Jack has the additional benefit of blocking the nuts, which is one of the hands that we are certainly afraid of.

Mike (36:38):

Plus of course it just has that straight equity. I mean when you have King Jack, you can hit a queen on the river, there are some cards that you actually love. Whereas with Fan, I mean yeah he can hit a six but only one six doesn’t complete a flush draw. So he doesn’t really have any clean outs. And the relative hand strength, the difference between King Jack and ace six here, they’re very, very similar when Spasov uses this kind of bigger size. So back to the hand Fan is going to tank here and eventually put in the call and we’re going to take a very key river in this tournament with five left, sort of, it’s an eight of clubs giving Spasov what is that fourth pair. And this is actually a hand, you can correct me if I’m wrong Aaron, but this is a hand that’s going to want to bluff even more now that he’s hit that eight, right? Because by having an eight it makes it less likely Fan has a hand like Ace eight of hearts here or even Ace eight offsuit, which now rivers two pair and is going to be able to call against a shove. So this is actually a good card, an above average card for Spasov to bluff.

Aaron (37:41):

Definitely. And I think a lot of people think of showdown value as I have a pair, but as you said before, the eight is almost never good here. And if that’s the case, then you really don’t have showdown value.

Mike (37:55):

Right. And he decides to not take that showdown value. He bets all in for 5.6 million effective little over the pot and Fan really, really quickly folds, which I don’t blame him at all. I mean this would be a very ambitious call for your tournament life with two shorter stacks. Would you agree with that Aaron?

Aaron (38:10):

Yeah. And again, not everybody turns their fourth pair into a bluff. Not only is this fourth pair, it’s also a straight blocker. I think it’s hard to imagine how Fan has queen nine here. I suppose it could be queen nine of spades, queen nine of diamonds, but that’s just two combos. Other than that, this card is going to be better for Spasov as you said before because he blocks some two pair of combos and his range overall is still going to be really strong here and it’s hard to imagine that many bluffs. So it’s a good spot to do it and he does it.

Mike (38:39):

And I love Spasov’s face here. He looks quite proud of himself and he should be. He’s played absolutely Fantastic at this final table. Really, really strong player who deserved this run. Spoiler alert if you don’t want to know who won, because again, as I mentioned earlier, this is on PokerGo so if you want to go watch this final table, you can do that right now. Spoiler coming in 3, 2, 1. Spasov does go on to win this tournament. He overcomes a small chip deficit against the chip leader at the time, Gordon. He ends up taking it down for $439,000. Really, really nice score for him. And I believe that’s his second bracelet. So congrats to him. Aaron, I guess we’re going to be doing this as a little bit of a weekly thing throughout the summer, right? Sound like a good plan?

Aaron (39:24):

Sounds great. I love it. I just really enjoy talking poker and the best part is when you talk about poker hands, there’s no variance. So you’re just going to enjoy the game as it’s meant to be enjoyed. And yeah, I hope we do this weekly going forward.

Mike (39:37):

Yeah, so Upswing Level up for basically the duration of the World Series of Poker is going to kind of be a WSOP hand of the week. Gary Blackwood is out there in Vegas grinding his heart out. This is his favorite time of year to grind. So Aaron’s going to step in for him. We’re just going to review one, maybe two or three interesting hands from the World Series of Poker or maybe other events in Vegas for the rest of the summer. So hopefully you enjoyed this, hit that like button subscribe, follow, any of the positive buttons you can hit. That would be great. And let me know if you agree with our analysis in the comments. We’re very interested to hear what you think of the plays and what you think of what we thought of the plays. So with all that said, thank you for listening. We’ll see you in the next one.