It took five episodes of High Stakes Poker Season 6 to bring us an episode with some real action.
Episode five, which aired yesterday, had just that - and loads of it.
We had Dario spazzing vs durrrr, Gus getting felted for 200k vs. Negreanu, Mercier vs. Ivey and, of course, durrrr three-barelling Ivey.
Any one of those hands would make a great strategy snapshot. But, sadly, we had to narrow it down to the single greatest.
IMO, it's a close race between Ivey "picking off" Mercier's bluff and durrrr's three-barrel.
Though the Ivey-durrrr hand might have been more exciting, I believe there's more to talk about in the Mercier-Ivey hand.
The durrrr hand was just a sick three-barrel in a three-bet pot. Of course, had Ivey called like he was contemplating with his pair of sixes, we would really have something to talk about.
However, I wouldn't be able to provide much insight on fifteenth-level soul-reading so it's a good thing he folded.
The Mercier hand, though, is very interesting and not just because he's a PokerListings blogger.
The hand begins when Gus Hansen raises to $4,200 under the gun. Everyone folds to Eli Elezra who makes the call in the cut-off. Phil Ivey calls on the button and Jason Mercier three-bets to $22,100 from the small blind.
Both Gus and Eli fold and Ivey is the only one to call on the button. The flop comes 2♠ 3♦ 7♥ and Mercier continuation bets $28,700 into $55,000.
Ivey now elects to raise, making it $78,000 to go. Mercier tanks for a moment before moving all-in for $185,100.
Now Ivey goes into the tank and eventually makes the call with the 9♠ 9♦.
Ivey's in good shape with his two nines vs. Mercier's A♥ 4♥ and when the turn comes 8♣ and the river bricks Q♠ the $425,200 pot is shipped to the man often called the best poker player in the world.
Gus steams it up and raises to $4,200 UTG with the Q♣ 6♦. Everyone folds to Eli who makes the call for some reason with 9♣ 5♣.
Ivey is next and he chooses to just call with the 9♣ 9♦. Nines are a good hand but not good enough to re-raise. Calling keeps both of his opponents' ranges wider.
Mercier squeezes to $22,100 with the A♥ 4♥.
There's already over $13,000 in the pot and both callers are likely to have weaker hands after not re-raising the original raiser. If you couple that with the fact Gus is known to steam after losing a big pot and thus has a wider UTG range, a re-raise is going pick up the pot uncontested very often.
The plan is going according to ... plan when both Gus and Eli fold. But Ivey elects to call with his pair of nines.
Ivey is over 200bb deep vs. Mercier and in position. A call is almost mandatory.
The flop comes 2♠ 3♦ 7♥.
A flop that, all things considered, is actually pretty good for Mercier's hand. He has an overcard, a gutshot, and a backdoor flush draw.
He c-bets $28,700 knowing that even if called he has outs.
Ivey thinks before making it $78,700 with his weak overpair - a move I don't really understand all that much tbh.
Obviously Ivey is on a completely different level than me but this raise doesn't make a whole lot of sense as it accomplishes nothing.
A three-bettor in the small blind is either going to have you beat and call or shove, or he's going to have a hand worse than yours and just fold.
If he has a hand worse than yours, why give him a chance to fold? Why not allow him to keep bluffing? A worse hand will never call and a better hand will never fold.
There is, of course, the chance that Ivey raised knowing it would induce a three-bet bluff from a worse hand. But if that's the case why does he tank when Mercier shoves?
Either way, Mercier does elect to move in for $185,100. A move that, like Gabe Kaplan, I'm actually a fan of.
Mercier played his hand just like a monster and even if called he's not dead in the water; he has equity with his overcard, gutshot, and backdoor flush draw.
However, this is Phil Ivey. He somehow soul-reads Mercier and eventually, reluctantly, makes the call - a call that seemingly cannot be profitable vs. Mercier's range.
The turn and river bring no help for Mercier and the $425,000 pot is shipped to Ivey.
A very interesting hand from a very good episode of High Stakes Poker.
PS: Jason if you're out there and read this hit up the comments box for your thoughts on this hand.
More High Stakes Poker Snapshots from Dan Skolovy