Poker chips always fly when the best poker players in the world meet to compete in the yearly Super High Roller Tournament Series in Europe. Jeff Koons and Ali Ismirovic were just a few of the many crushers in attendance competing in the $25,000 buy-in event. Battling it out at the final table, Romanian Pro Liviu Ignat looked down at pocket aces and was surely seeing money signs. Having to get his aces through fellow player Danny Tang, some deceptive bet sizing made this hand a wild one to watch.
The Game: $25,000 Buy-In NLH Tournament
Effective Stack: 23 Big Blinds
Where: Super High Roller Series – Cyprus, Europe
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Playing Pocket Aces Preflop
First to act with 1,200,000 chips behind, Liviu Ignat raised to 125,000 after looking down at the beautiful A♠-A♦. Folded around to Danny Tang on the big blind, Tang would call holding 9♠-8♠.
Regardless of stack depth, you are obviously raising with pocket aces every time you are dealt them. Some novice, recreational players like to mix in limps with pocket aces in an attempt to trap, but this just hurts the premium value aces give you.
Considering the shallow stack sizes and being the big blind, Tang had an easy call holding quality suited connectors. Raising was out of the question, as he could easily be shoved on at these stack sizes. Holding a hand that can flop extremely well, Tang made the correct play calling and assessing his strength on the flop.
Flush Draw On The Flop
The Pot: 340,000
The Board: Q♠-6♦-3♠
Effective Stack: 20 Big Blinds Effective
Following an out-of-position check from Tang, Ignat executed a continuation bet for 180,000. Not easily giving up with a flush draw and runner-runner straight draw potential, Tang made the call.
After seeing the 180,000 continuation bet from Ignat, it was likely in Tang’s best interest to move all-in. By calling the bet from Ignat, Tang helped grow the pot to 700,000, almost equal to Ignat’s remaining stack. On a lot of turn cards, Ignat is incentivized to not get outdrawn, in turn moving all-in to deny Tang another card. There was a strong likelihood Ignat would make Tang play for a large percentage of his stack, meaning Tang should have flipped the script, moving all-in on the flop to put his opponent in a tough spot rather than himself.
In general, when stacks are shallow and you have a draw that won’t be good at showdown, make the aggressive move that leaves your opponent with a hard decision.
Tang Cracks Pocket Aces On The Turn
The Pot: 700,000
The Board: Q♠-6♦-3♠-7♠
Effective Stack: 16 Big Blinds Effective
Hitting his flush on fourth street, Tang deceptively checked to Ignat, who threw out another 180,000 worth of chips. Not going anywhere with his queen-high flush, Tang again made the call.
While ripping it in was likely the best play for Ignat, the small 180,000 bet wasn’t necessarily a bad play either. Analyzing Tang’s decision to call, much like the flop he was probably better off moving all-in to draw a call from a paired queen, or scare an ace of spades off of the hand. Not moving all-in keeps Tang from getting full value for his flush, if another spade came on the river he would have been dead-to-rights in a hand he could have potentially taken down on the flop or turn.
Folding Pocket Aces On The River
The Pot: 1,060,000
The Board: Q♠-6♦-3♠-7♠-8♣
Effective Stack: 12 Big Blinds Effective
Seeing a safe card on the river, Tang would now be the one to bet, leading out for an extremely small 115,000. Despite holding the American Airlines and blocking the ace-high flush draw, Ignat would somehow find the fold.
Facing an extremely tiny bet worth a tenth of the pot, this is a bet Ignat should be calling literally 100% of the time. While he was behind and maybe had a soul read telling him his aces were no good, all those things considered Ignat is losing tons of value if he makes this play on a regular basis.
All things being considered, Ignat made an incredible lay down, leaving spectators wondering if he could read minds. Mind reading abilities aside, Ignat would soon be eliminated in this tournament, taking home $128,000. Merely a spot away from glory, Tang would serve as runner-up in the $25,000 event, taking home $320,000 for 2nd place.